The banged-up Boston defense is getting back to full health.
Well, close to full health.
On Monday, Andrew Ference — who hasn’t played since Game 5 of the Toronto series — was skating with Bruins strength and conditioning coach John Whitesides, a positive development in his recovery from a lower-body injury.
“He’s obviously on the mend,” Boston head coach Claude Julien told NHL.com. “But not ready to say he’s ready to go yet.”
The Bruins were able to dispatch of the Rangers without the services of Ference and Wade Redden in Round 2 against the Rangers, as a trio of young blueliners — Dougie Hamilton, Matt Bartkowski and Torey Krug — filled in capably.
(Dennis Seidenberg missed the majority of the series as well, but did return for Game 5.)
It was an impressive performance by the youngsters, but one that will be tough to replicate against the Penguins if they’re again pressed into action.
Pittsburgh boasts four of the NHL’s top six playoff scorers at the moment — a far cry from a Rangers team that only averaged 2.17 goals per game in the playoffs.
Julien wouldn’t say either way if he’d put Ference straight back into the lineup once he becomes healthy.
“At one point you make a decision and it doesn’t mean that it’s an easy one, because it’s not,” he explained. “We’ll deal with it when the time comes.”
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.