During this, the longest break the Boston Bruins have had to date this season (it’s seriously unusual to have so much time between games, but the waiting is the hardest part), the team is going to get in a lot of quality time to rest, recuperate and study recon on the Pittsburgh Penguins before the Eastern Conference finals begin. That resting time could be of particularly good use for Andrew Ference, a former Pittsburgh draft pick himself, who hasn’t been out on the ice at all since May 10. The photo above is one of the most recent photos of him in game action.
Yes, it really has been that long! He’s been at practices recently, but only joined his teammates for the full routine today after having skated for the past few days with the team’s strength and conditioning coach. In practice, he was paired up with Aaron Johnson, which should really tell you everything you need to know about the idea of Ference being ready to play again soon.
I highly doubt that he will be suiting up for game one of the conference final, which is supposedly going to be on Saturday night at 8 p.m., NBC. The NHL itself has yet to confirm that tidbit of information, but since last night, the start date and time has been leaking out and attributed to various different sources.
But let’s say that Ference does feel well by the time the series starts or not long thereafter. Deciding whether or not to immediately reinsert him into the lineup could be somewhat difficult for coach Claude Julien to do, but you know that old saying. When it rains, it pours. When you have an abundance of defensive options, picking the optimal blend becomes a problem that is most likely the envy of other coaches. That being said, even if he does return, I’d probably hold back on putting him in right away, not only because he may still be on the mend or vulnerable (anyone else notice how often Dennis Seidenberg was on the bad end of hits in his return from injury? Exactly) but also because the young d-men have been impressive.
Now, Matt Bartkowski could lay an egg and become a candidate for replacement, but at this point, Torey Krug should sit for no man. He’s just been too impressive and even when he doesn’t score, he’s trying hard, doing all sorts of things the Bruins needed desperately before he came along. The team needed a puck-moving defenseman and they got just that in number 47.
Which, of course, means some folks are already wondering if Julien could do some lineup finagling and move Krug to a forward position. This is why we can’t have nice things.