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At the Rink blog

Bruins' blue line fortified with Ference's return

Thursday, 02.02.2012 / 12:40 PM

By Matt Kalman - NHL.com Correspondent / At the Rink blog

BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins should be whole again on their back end tonight for the first time in more than a week, as defenseman Andrew Ference will return from his three-game suspension.        

Ference earned the ban against the New York Rangers Jan. 21, when he awkwardly pushed defenseman Ryan McDonagh into the end wall. Combined with Adam McQuaid's apparent return to health after catching a rut in the ice in the third period Tuesday and missing practice Wednesday, Ference's return will provide the Bruins with their usual sextet of blueliners against Carolina at the TD Garden.

"Well, I think he's been a pretty stable force for us back there," Bruins coach Claude Julien said about Ference, who has provided the team with 4 goals and 20 points so far this season. "I've liked his game this year. He's been a real healthy player. And I think that's what's held him back in the past, as far as people appreciating him for what he really is."

While Ference and McQuaid are scheduled to rejoin the lineup, Nathan Horton (concussion) has still not done any physical activity. Julien said the forward is improving and could exert himself later in the week.

Here is the Bruins' projected lineup:

Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Rich Peverley
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Tyler Seguin
Benoit Pouliot - Chris Kelly - Zach Hamill
Daniel Paille - Gregory Campbell - Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara - Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg - Joe Corvo
Andrew Ference - Adam McQuaid

Tim Thomas
Tuukka Rask

I didn't think it would actually work, but it ended up working, so I'm thanking my lucky stars tonight.

— Columbus forward Nick Foligno on scoring the overtime goal after telling the Blue Jackets in the locker room that he would win the game