BOSTON -- The Bruins beefed up their defensemen depth at the NHL trade deadline and those depthsare already being tested.
Andrew Ference exited Thursday night's 4-3 overtime win at TD Garden over the New Jersey Devils in the third period with a "lower body injury" and never returned to action. Ference has a history of groin issues over the years, but it's unclear if that was the problem this time around.
The B's defenseman took a heavy hit from Alex Ponikarovsky in the corner during the second period, butit was unclearif that had anything to do with Ference's exit after just 2:40 and four shifts in the third period.
"He suffered a lower body injury and the medical staff thought it was better to hold him out of the game," said Claude Julien. "We'll know more about the injury tomorrow."
Julien had actually shortened his bench and was skipping Joe Corvo while going with a five-man defensemen rotation to start the third period. But the B's coach was forced to put Corvo back into the regular rotation when Ference had to leavethe game prematurely.
Greg Zonan, by contrast, was impressive in his debut with the Bruins, and it appears that Johnny Boychuk is trending toward a potential return this weekend from a mild concussion if things continue to improve. Mike Mottau was a healthy scratch for Thursday's game against the Devils, but that may change given Ference's developing injury situation.