By Joe Haggerty
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.
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BRIGHTON, Mass. – Anton Blidh plans on keeping things pretty straightforward on his first call-up to the NHL.
The former sixth-round pick of the Bruins has earned his stripes at the AHL level with Providence over the last couple of seasons, and comes to Boston as a gritty, energy forward capable of stirring things up in otherwise sleepy games. There’s also a bit of offensive upside for a fourth line-type player with five goals and nine points with 22 penalty minutes and a plus-eight rating in 19 games for the P-Bruins this season.
It remains to be seen if the Blidh call-up means that the Bruins intend to scratch a player or that somebody is questionable for Saturday afternoon’s game in Buffalo, but Patrice Bergeron did miss Friday’s practice without any real defined reason for his absence. The 21-year-old Swede said he plans to play to his strengths if he gets into the lineup for the Black and Gold, and that could mean getting under the skin of his Sabres opponents.
“It’s my first time called up, so I’m happy,” said Blidh, who was asked what he'll bring if he gets into the lineup. “I’ll just play simple and play my own game: be hard on the puck and play with some energy. I worked hard [in Providence] and then I got some confidence. I’m not a goal-scorer, but I scored a couple of goals and got some confidence.”
Claude Julien hasn’t been able to catch up Blidh’s work since the season got started, but was pleased by the youngster’s progress in training camp, where he earned notice for his feisty, physical play on a line with Noel Acciari.
“They said he’s playing well, so they brought him up. We’ll get to see him, hopefully tomorrow,” said Julien. “I didn’t hear a ton of fine details aside from him being a guy that was certainly playing with a lot of energy. I didn’t mind him in training camp either. He works really hard and competes hard, and we could use that.”
That would certainly be the case after watching the Bruins go through the motions for long stretches Thursday night against Carolina before essentially stealing a game that they didn’t deserve to win.
Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading, while everybody in New England is in mourning over the latest Gronk booboo.
*A pretty neat sharpshooting video with Jonathan Toews and that young whippersnapper Auston Matthews squaring off against each other.
*Craig Custance looks a little deeper into the situation with the Florida Panthers and how things are stabilizing after the rough firing of Gerard Gallant last week.
*Now. let’s get to the real important stuff: the San Jose Sharks website has put together their Movember rankings for the player’s mustaches.
*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Bruce Garrioch says that the plans for an outdoor game in Ottawa are again back on the NHL’s agenda.
*Erik Erlendsson has put together a “Lightning Insider” website where you can find all the latest news about the Tampa Bay franchise. Check it out.
*As guys such as Anton Khudobin prove when they’re thrust into the starting spot, backup goalies matter in today’s NHL.
*For something completely different: a mash-up of Kylo Ren and “Girls” from the mad mind of Adam Driver is exactly just that.