Ference won't play Tuesday; Kampfer ready to go

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Ference won't play Tuesday; Kampfer ready to go

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

WILMINGTON -- As the Bruins travel to Columbus, where they'll begin a three-game road trip Tuesday night, there's one defensive spot that needs to be filled.

With Matt Bartkowski sent back down to Providence, the candidates to fill that spot would be Andrew Ference, Steve Kampfer, and Shane Hnidy.

Hnidy (shoulder) can be immediately crossed off that list, because he's not yet available.

As for Ference (lower body) and Kampfer (concussion), both have now practiced with the team for two straight days, and have been cleared to play. Coach Claude Julien said after Sunday's practice that, "with both players, it's a lot of, basically, their decision."

He reiterated that point after Monday's practice. If they feel like they can play, they will be available to fill that sixth and final spot on the defense.

"Kampfer and Ference will be, probably, decisions as we move forward here," said Julien. "If Kampfer feels good, then he's going to be cleared, and the same thing with Ference. But right now, I don't think there's any definite decision that's been made on either of those two players.

"We feel that one of them, at least, will be ready. And hopefully two."

Perhaps Julien was unwilling to tip his hand on Tuesday's lineup against the Blue Jackets, because just minutes before he spoke, Ference had already ruled himself out for Tuesday.

"You're anxious to get back, it's just that balance of being smart, and doing what's best for your injury, and also, not coming back to the point where you're a detriment to your team, by rushing things," said Ference after Monday's practice.

"I'm not playing tomorrow," he later added.

So it looks as if Kampfer will be the Bruins defenseman filling that sixth and final spot in Tuesday's lineup. he said after practice that he felt back up to game speed, and is ready to go, nearly two weeks after suffering a minor concussion on March 3.

"I felt good skating, I felt good getting hit a little bit," said Kampfer. "It all comes down to how I feel the rest of the day, and when I wake up tomorrow."

"You hope that you can play, but at the same time, it's Claude's decision."

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on his streaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from 9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.

Liles remains in lineup for Bruins, Colin Miller stays a healthy scratch

Liles remains in lineup for Bruins, Colin Miller stays a healthy scratch

BRIGHTON, Mass – It had been more than a month since John-Michael Liles had jumped into a game for the Bruins, so the 36-year-old kept it simple on Tuesday night against the Nashville Predators.

Liles finished with a plus-1 rating and a couple of shots on net in 13-plus minutes of ice time and was part of a Bruins defense that blocked a whopping 25 shots in the tight, defensively sound victory. He was also just understandably excited to be back to playing with so much on the line this late in the regular season.

“I’ve been in situations like this before, so I was just trying to stick to my game and play to my strengths,” said Liles, who has five assists in 32 games this season. “It did feel like a playoff game a bit and you get to this time of year where every point is crucial for us as well as [the other teams]. It can be challenging when you haven’t played together with somebody for a while [as a pairing], but when you keep it simple that makes it easier. As long as you talk on the ice it will work, and I think [Kevan Miller] and I have done okay with that in different situations.”

On the flip side, the 24-year-old Colin Miller will sit for the second consecutive game tonight against the Dallas Stars in favor of Liles after playing a low 11:50 of ice time in the win over the Islanders last weekend. The skilled, puck-moving Miller has two points and a plus-2 rating in 12 games in March, but clearly something isn’t good enough with Bruce Cassidy opting for Liles over Miller as of late.

“I think [Liles] has worked hard to stay in good condition and stay sharp if he got in the lineup, so we’re going to give him another chance. It’s one of those gut instincts this time of year, and [Dallas] is a good matchup for him,” said Cassidy. Miller has five goals and 12 points in 58 games for the B’s in his second NHL season. “[Miller] is young, but he’s not Brandon Carlo-young. He’s been a pro for three or four years. It’s him understanding the consistency, every-night factor or playing to his strengths and what we want out of him, and balancing that with what [Liles] did for us the other night.

“This time of year you always want young players to face these moments and play through them, but you also have to balance your lineup if you feel a veteran guy gives you a better shot to win. We’re looking at both of those things. Either way you hope that when Colin Miller gets back in that he’s better off for it, and not worse off. That’s the plan. In the meantime [Liles] gives us good, solid minutes.”

One final thing that could also be going on a bit in the background: The Bruins possibly paving the way for Charlie McAvoy to get an look at the NHL level next week and giving themselves some options of where to play him if he thoroughly dominates in Providence this weekend.

A third pairing of Liles-McAvoy would give the Bruins a much different, much more mobile look if that transpired and knocking some of the rust off Liles makes that a possibility if/when McAvoy gets an NHL cup of coffee.  

Thursday, March 30: Maybe they should rename it the Bergeron Trophy?

Thursday, March 30: Maybe they should rename it the Bergeron Trophy?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while really enjoying Matthew Tkachuk’s first go-round in the NHL. He may not have grown up here, but he’s definitely got some Masshole in his game.

*The five major contenders for the Selke Trophy include this one guy that wears Black and Gold and might have won the thing a couple of times. I’ll give you three guesses who that is.

*The 25-year run of the Detroit Red Wings in the playoffs has come to a close, and it’s probably the right time for them to reevaluate things.

*A Flames/Kings game turned into an on-ice rumble of sorts with Matthew Tkachuk involved in all kinds of action after his previous elbow of Drew Doughty.

*Speaking of the Flames/Kings, here’s Brian Burke with an After Hours-looking segment talking about the rough stuff during Flames/Kings.

*David Clarkson is finding his hockey life after the NHL with a high school coaching gig in Ohio not far from the Blue Jackets’ home rink.

*If it’s truly his last hockey game in Calgary, Jarome Iginla made it one to remember squaring off against his old Flames team.

*For something completely different: There’s been some smoke about the Expos returning to Montreal, but no fire as yet on the reports.