Ference back in B's lineup, McQuaid out

191545.jpg

Ference back in B's lineup, McQuaid out

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON The guessing game is over as to which defensemen will hit the bench with Andrew Ference once again 100 percent healthy and ready to return against the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night. Ference was the first one onto the ice on Thursday morning for morning skate at TD Garden, and McQuaid was not a part of the normal pairings indicating hed be sitting for the Black and Gold.Adam McQuaid has been playing through some bumps and bruises over the last few games, and will get a rest with Ference having missed the last three games with an upper body injury.Ference seems to be good and cleared to go, said coach Claude Julien. McQuaid has been playing banged up over the last couple of weeks, and the medical staff wants him to take a little bit of a break. He could certainly play through it if he had to, but weve got a healthy back end. We might as well get them as healthy as possible, so thats a decision that we have made.McQuaid has three assists in his last four games, and has quietly become a pretty vital cog in Bostons team structure given his toughness, ability to fight and growing calm in the offensive zone. When McQuaid heals from his various ailments, Julien knows itll be a tough choice determining which six defensemen will go on a nightly basis.If they keep playing the way they are its going to be difficult, said Julien. Theres no doubt about that. Its not an easy decision to make, and if theyre all playing well Ive seen situations where you alternate to get everybody in the lineup.I guess well cross that bridge when we come to it. Right now I think our back end has been pretty good for us, and they all deserve to play. Tuukka Rask was the first goaltender off the ice for the Bruins, and will get the start against the Sabres after he was pulled after the first period New Years Day in Buffalo and it turned out to be a turning point in Rasks hockey season. Ryan Miller is between the pipes again for the Buffalo Sabres and will play his 22nd game in a row a trend that isnt likely to change until the Sabres are either in or eliminated from playoff contention. Steve Kampfer said that hes having trouble breathing out of more than one nostril with his broken nose, and that the young defenseman might undergo some kind of procedure during the NHL All-Star break at the end of the month if he continues to experience difficulty breathing.Hes been able to play, but theres blood up there that have clogged his sinuses, said Julien. Its made it hard for him to breathe, but hes certainly playing through it. We know what Kampfer brings to the table, and we dont have many of those offensive-minded, mobile defenseman like he is.When you make a decision, you make it based on that as well.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Bruins sign Kevan Miller to four-year, $10 million deal

felger_miller0523161464117692429_3450k_1280x720_691977283816.jpg

Bruins sign Kevan Miller to four-year, $10 million deal

BOSTON -- The Bruins locked up a piece to a blue line that was godawful last season in announcing they’d signed Kevan Miller to a four-year, $10 million contract.

They also retained one of their own young restricted free agents, center Seth Griffith, by reaching agreement on a one-year, two-way deal with an NHL value of $625,000 per season.

Miller, 28, played in a career-high 71 games last season -- his third with the Bruins -- and established career highs in goals (5), assists (13), points (18) and penalty minutes (53). He also posted the second-best plus/minus rating on the team (plus-15) and generally seemed to be playing his best hockey down the stretch.

The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Miller was also forced into playing 19:04 of ice time per night while oftentimes serving as a top-pair D-man alongside Zdeno Chara. That resulted in a high number of mistakes and turnovers at critical times against the opposition’s best offensive players.

The rugged, hardnosed Miller obviously isn’t going to be judged solely by the numbers. He's also evaluated by the big hits, blocked shots and air of intimidation in the defensive zone. That said, a four-year contract is a bit of a head-scratcher, given that Miller wasn’t expected to command that kind of deal as an unrestricted free agent on the open market.

That four-year deal, which carries a yearly cap hit of $2.5 million, would also seem to hint at the impending exodus of Adam McQuaid or Dennis Seidenberg, or both, given the number of limited stay-at-home defensemen on the roster now making decent NHL money.  

The bottom line: Miller’s contract will be a good one if he can settle into a steady, top-four role. But it will be another overpay if he winds up being the bottom-pairing D-man many see him as at the NHL level.

Griffith had 24 goals and 53 assists for 77 points in 57 games for the Providence Bruins last season, and also had an assist in four games for Boston. He'll get another chance this year to compete for one of the winger jobs at the NHL level with plenty of competition.

Morning Skate: Following Bruins prospect DeBrusk and former All-Star Thornton

cp-morning-skate.jpg

Morning Skate: Following Bruins prospect DeBrusk and former All-Star Thornton

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while thoroughly enjoying “Chewbacca Mom.”

*Good piece on Bruins first round pick Jake DeBrusk, and his solid performance during Memorial Cup play.

*A couple of my friends over at NHL.com have attempted to put together a World Cup of Hockey roster for North America.

*Good piece by FOH (Friend of Haggs) Craig Custance on Jumbo Joe Thornton, and what those who know him best say about him.

*Speaking of the Sharks/Blues conference finals, Vladimir Tarasenko is scoreless through the first five games of the series. That doesn’t bode well for the Blues.

*Actor Will Arnett proves that nobody is better at predicting the outcome of Stanley Cup playoff games than him.

*Longtime Director of Player Personnel Scott Luce is out with the Florida Panthers as their restructuring continues in this spring and summer.

*Gustav Nyquist is disappointing with his scoring numbers from last season, and is looking for a bump up next year.

*For something completely different: Chewbacca Mom visited with James Corden on late night television, and the results were both funny and kind of heartwarming.