Ference contributes on offensive end vs. Leafs

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Ference contributes on offensive end vs. Leafs

By DannyPicard
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- They don't come in bunches for Andrew Ference, that's for sure. But they don't have to.

The Bruins defenseman scored just his third goal of the season on Thursday night -- his first since Jan. 1 -- in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs at the TD Garden. He did his part in giving the B's a 3-2 lead midway through the second period, on a slap shot from the top of the left circle that found its way past the Maple Leafs' player in front of him, and through the five hole of Toronto goaltender James Reimer.

The Leafs tied the game at 3-3 in the third period, so his goal no longer stood as the game-winner. It would have been nice, had it remained the difference-maker, because not only would it have given the Bruins a win on Thursday night, but it also would have officially crowned them the Northeast Division champs.

Still, it felt good for Ference to put the puck in the net. After all, he doesn't do it very often. But as he, and others pointed out after Thursday night's game, scoring goals isn't Ference's top priority. In fact, it's not even close to a concern.

"It's always fun when one goes in, but I don't know, it's not my main focus," said Ference after the loss. "Obviously, keeping it out of our net is why I have a job.

"We'd be in trouble if it was the other way around, but it's nice to contribute once in a while."

Ference finished Thursday's loss with a game-high plus-2 rating. The only other defenseman to finish with a plus-2 was Adam McQuaid.

Ference is a plus-24 on the season, which ranks 19th overall in the entire NHL. It's a stat that he takes pride in, but also admits that sometimes it's a stat that's not worth worrying about.

"There's absolutely nothing that you can change on certain goals and certain situations," said Ference.

That is true. And Ference wasn't on the ice for any of Toronto's three goals on Thursday night, which means, when he was on the ice, his defense was good enough to help keep the puck out of his own net.

That defensive quality, in itself, is the main reason why Ference is a valuable piece to Boston's championship run.

It doesn't always look pretty when the puck's on his stick, but certainly, he wouldn't be qualified as a "bad" puck-mover. He's a defenseman. He's physical. When he's healthy, he can be a plus player.

His offense has dry spells, no doubt. But again, he's a defenseman. Like he said, he gets paid to play defense, not offense. And while his offense on Thursday night was good enough to help the Bruins earn a point, it's his blue-collar defensive abilities that that team's asking him to utilize in its postseason run.

"He's been good," said Bruins coach Claude Julien after Thursday's loss. "Again, tonight he had a different partner, but for the most part, him and Adam McQuaid have been a really good pair for us.

"I like his competitiveness, I like his mobility, and he moves the puck well."

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on hisstreaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.

Saturday, Jan. 21: McKenzie on Julien's job security

Saturday, Jan. 21: McKenzie on Julien's job security

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while proud of my wife and daughter participating in today’s Women’s March.

*This is from a few days ago, but Bob McKenzie weighing in on the prospects for Claude Julien and his job security is always worth checking out.  

*The New York Rangers have themselves a rookie named Pavel that’s doing a pretty darned good job for the Blueshirts.

*What should the St. Louis Blues do with Kevin Shattenkirk as the trade deadline approaches and the seven-year, $49 million contract waiting for him in free agency is pretty daunting?

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kevin Allen has a list of underperforming NHL stars, including Jamie Benn and Jonathan Toews, that may have been impacted by the World Cup of Hockey. Certainly Patrice Bergeron could have made this list as well.

*Blackhawks backup goalie Scott Darling may be earning some more playing time after the way he performed against the Bruins, according to Pro Hockey Talk.

*Good news with Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson set to return to the team in a couple of weeks after tending to his wife in a battle against cancer.

*The struggles of Anthony Duclair with the Arizona Coyotes mirror the team’s issues this season as well. It’s interesting that Duclair has popped up in trade rumors with the Desert Dogs this season.

*For something completely different: the final Wolverine movie with Hugh Jackman is going to be extremely emotional with its characters.


 

Both Millers missing from Bruins practice, but trending toward return

Both Millers missing from Bruins practice, but trending toward return

BRIGHTON, Mass – While both Kevan Miller and Colin Miller were missing from Bruins practice on Saturday morning, both injured Bruins defensemen could be rejoining the team soon.

Colin Miller skated on his own prior to Saturday’s team practice at Warrior Ice Arena for the second or third time since suffering a lower body injury in the win over the St. Louis Blues. Claude Julien said his presence on the ice was proof that the puck-moving defenseman is “definitely on the mend”, and could be nearing a return to practice soon with Sunday marking the sixth straight game that he’ll have missed.

Kevan Miller is out with a concussion suffered last weekend in the win over the Philadelphia Flyers, and the B’s current three-game losing streak has coincided with his absence from the lineup.

Julien said Miller has actually been away from the team for the last couple of days while dealing with a virus, and that his recovery from the concussion symptoms was good prior to being knocked down by the illness.

“Kevan was actually feeling really well and then he got hit by a virus that’s kept him in bed for the last two days,” said Julien. “It’s nothing to do with his original injury. There was a possibility he could have been ready very soon, but that’s set him back a bit.”

Both are obviously out for Sunday’s matinee against the Penguins, but a return to practice at some point next week seems like a good bet for both players. Here are the line combos and defense pairings from Saturday’s practice with the Bruins focusing on getting a good result in Pittsburgh with the hockey club on a “mom’s trip” with 22 of the players’ mothers traveling with the team to and from the game:

Marchand-Bergeron-Vatrano

Schaller-Krejci-Pastrnak

Spooner-Nash-Backes/Hayes

Blidh/Beleskey-Moore-Czarnik

 

Chara-Carlo

Krug-McQuaid

Morrow-Liles

 

Rask

McIntyre