Ference voices desire to play

Ference voices desire to play
June 1, 2013, 1:30 pm
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PITTSBURGH – It’s becoming increasingly clear Andrew Ference is healthy enough to play, but that the Boston Bruins are going to stick with rookies Matt Bartkowski and Torey Krug to start with in the Eastern Conference Finals. Ference skated for the fifth straight day with Boston, and appeared to be moving around with speed and full confidence that his left foot has healed up enough to play. The Bruins defenseman said as much following Saturday morning’s skate, and said his desire to play was trumped by a coach’s decision.

“Everybody wants to be in the mix, and you can contribute in many different ways. You can be positive and supportive, and there’s more than what happens on the ice,” said Ference. “We’re a room that gets it, and that’s why we’ve had continued success. When you look at the playoffs, it’s more than what you don the ice.

“It’s a long year and it’s a grinding battle. One of the things is having the right attitude and the right environment that can push you above other [teams]. It’s the same attitude no matter your role is, or no matter what your injury situation is. Everybody has got a part to play.”

Claude Julien said the veteran defenseman wasn’t medically cleared on Friday, but danced around the question on Saturday as to whether Ference has been medically cleared to play for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Either way it was clear from morning skate he’s going with Matt Bartkowski and Johnny Boychuk as his second pairing for Saturday night. The Bruins coach was asked about making tough lineup decisions, and he kept his answer short and to the point.

“That's the thing I'll have to deal with when the time comes,” said Julien. “We've had a chance to ponder those kinds of [lineup decisions and matchups] and look at it. Then we said, well, if it doesn't work, we can always go to this and that. We are ready as much as they are.”

As Julien alluded to, even if Ference doesn’t start the series in Game 1 it will still be a sure bet that his fiery, veteran presence will enter the mix at some point in the Eastern Conference Finals against Pittsburgh. Ference has fared decently in his battles with Sidney Crosby over the years, including dropping the gloves for Sid the Kid’s first NHL fight.

“I’m still waiting for my first autographed copy of the photo [from Crosby],” cracked Ference after Saturday’s morning skate.

That’s exactly the kind of grinding defensive presence Boston could use against the high-powered Pittsburgh attack, and what Ference will provide when he’s introduced back into the B’s lineup after going out with a left foot injury back on May 10.