Bruins’ Ference not medically cleared for Eastern Conference finals

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Andrew Ference won’t return to action for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals on Saturday.

Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien confirmed as much after Thursday’s practice, saying the veteran defenseman still hasn’t received medical clearance to return from his undisclosed injury.

The 34-year-old hasn’t played since Game 5 of the Toronto series, but has resumed skating and was recently described as “on the mend,” by Julien.

Julien also stated that, even if Ference was healthy enough to return, there’s no guarantee he’d get in.

Young defensemen Matt Bartkowski and Torey Krug have performed admirably in relief (Ference and Wade Redden missed the entire second round; Dennis Seidenberg only returned for Game 5) and could be tough to drop from the lineup.

That said, it could be hard for Boston to go without Ference’s postseason experience.

He has 110 career playoff games under his belt, appearing in two Stanley Cup finals (in ’04 with Calgary and during Boston’s 2011 championship).