Ference feeling good about new season

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Ference feeling good about new season

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins InsiderFollow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON -- Andrew Ference has always bristled at the notion he was injury prone, or perhaps too small to consistently withstand the NHL pounding a defenseman must endurewithout sustaining bodily injuries.It was tough to argue he wasn't exactly that while missing an average of 30 games each season during his first three full years with the Bruins. But then last year's Stanley Cup season happened, and Ference maintained his health and wellness for the majority of a bruising campaign.

The 32-year-old Ference enjoyed his first largely healthy season with the Bruins while playing 70 games along with a full playoff effort of 25 contests, and posted 15 points along witha plus-22 while avoiding all of the lower bodyissues that have plagued him through the years. His year-long presence was unmistakable along the Boston back line, and the leadership within the dressing room during the postseason simply couldn't be ignored.

Its no coincidence that good health and beneficial fortune for Ference coincided with his hockey clubfinally capturing the Stanley Cup. Even better, the defenseman enjoyed a healthy summer of workouts getting ready for the new season and a chance to repeat as Stanley Cup champs.

Ference joked that he probably felt a lot better when he was 18 years old, but is as good as ever physically given all of the knee,groinleg issues hes battled throughwith since landing in Boston midway through the 2006-07 season.

You saw a long list the last couple of years of ourguys having surgeries in the summer and spending all of those weeks simply rehabbing the injuries. Those are difficult off-seasons that eat up your entire summer, said Ference. To not have that to deal with this summer, you feel a lot better about things. "I wasnt limping around the whole summer. That was great."Groin problems and sports hernia issues really hampered Ference through each of the prior two playoff runs for Boston, and became a public sticking point when the veteran blueliner had inked a three-year contract extension before last year. But the Bs defenseman proved the critics wrong en route to enjoying his best season in Black and Gold, and provided the kind of embracing, thoughtful leadership that the rest of the team gladlyfall in behind.

Ference is ready to provide that steady hand along the blueline again as the team goes about the difficult chore of attempting to capture another Cup, and he along with the rest of his teammates knows it wont be easy. Staying healthy, focused and successful within the brutal NHL landscape is the ultimate challenge that the Bs are gearing up for.Ference knows that all too well.The biggest challenge is, of course, the mental challenge to stay sharp, to remember what it took to get there and know how hard the battle was, said Ference. We have an honest and open group and were fairly level-headed about knowing what it took for a team like us to win it in the first place. Were not a very flashy group. Nobody is kidding themselves into thinking that and with so many guys returning we have a pretty easy time talking about that.

With Ference taking a healthy, prominent role again this upcoming season, the Stanley Cup champion B's are already ahead of the game.

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

Rask stops 35 shots in Bruins' 2-1 win over Sabres

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Rask stops 35 shots in Bruins' 2-1 win over Sabres

BUFFALO, N.Y. - Tuukka Rask made 35 saves to help the Bruins hold off the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 on Saturday

David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron scored to give Boston a 2-0 lead and the Bruins improved to 3-0-1 in their past four.

Evander Kane scored his first goal of the season for Buffalo. Robin Lehner returned after missing one game with a hip injury and made 32 saves.

The Sabres combined for nine goals in their previous two wins but the NHL's lowest-scoring team reverted to form from the first 21 games, when star center Jack Eichel was out of the lineup with a high-ankle sprain.

Krejci got the Bruins on the scoreboard with 5:50 left in the first when he deflected Brandon Carlo's slap shot from the point off the right post and into the net.

The Sabres appeared to tie the game late in the second period but replays determined Brian Gionta kicked the puck into the net.

Bergeron made it 2-0 at 7:10 of the second at 7:44 of the third when he knocked on the rebound of his own missed shot. Bergeron initially hit the puck with his forearm on the left edge of the crease and skated around the net to chase down the puck and slip a backhand past Lehner.

The Sabres answered two minutes later, scoring on Rask for the first time in 109:12 this season. Sam Reinhart's feed off the rear wall set up Kane for a wrist shot from the slot that bounced in off Krejci. Reinhart has five points in his last four games.

NOTES: Bruins F Matt Beleskey was escorted to the dressing room in the final minute of the first period with a lower-body injury and did not return. ... Sabres D Josh Gorges did not play after injuring his foot blocking a shot in Thursday's win over the New York Rangers. With Dmitry Kulikov (lower back) and Zach Bogosian (MCL sprain) also out, the Sabres were down three of their top four defenseman and recalled 19-year-old Brendan Guhle from the minors to make his NHL debut. Guhle hustled back to thwart a breakaway by Krejci late in the third period. ... F Anton Blidh became the seventh Bruin to make his NHL debut this season after being recalled from the minors on Friday. ... The Bruins scratched F Jimmy Hayes. D Zdeno Chara, the Bruins' captain, missed his sixth straight game with a lower-body injury. ... Rask got a shutout in Boston's 4-0 win over Buffalo on Nov. 7.

UP NEXT

Bruins: Host Florida on Monday.

Sabres: At Washington on Monday.

 

© 2016 by STATS and The Associated Press.