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The Black & Gold no longer black & blue

by Samantha Wood / Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins left winger Sturm celebrates with teammates  Wideman and Begin after scoring against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the third period of an NHL hockey game Monday, Dec. 28, 2009 in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Boston, MA --They’re baaack…almost.

After a combined nine games on the scratch list, 31 year-old left wingers Marco Sturm and Steve Begin are inching closer to their return to lineup.

Both have been out due to undisclosed injuries, Sturm since Jan. 16 and Begin since Jan. 18. But after yesterday’s practice at Ristuccia Memorial Arena, both were optimistic that they’d be back in game shape soon.

“I did every drill we had to do out there and it feels good, but still, we’ll see tomorrow morning how I react to it and we’ll see how I feel,” said Begin.

As the B’s prepare for tonight’s game in Buffalo, Begin and Sturm will be on the ice in the morning, though both were hesitant to confirm if they’ll be well enough to return to the roster quite yet.

“I’m going to travel and skate tomorrow and see how it is—just got to go day by day,” said Sturm. “I tried to skate last week and I was just not ready.

“So hopefully this time it’s going to stay like this.”

After being sidelined for almost a month with a groin injury, Andrew Ference is another Bruin who is itching to get back in the game.  The blueliner skated yesterday before the general team practice session. Since the injury, it was his first time on the ice in front of the media.

Head coach Claude Julien was pleased with Ference’s improvement.

“I think he’s feeling better and hopefully, if everything goes well, maybe by next week he can hop in with us and start working his way back,” Julien said.

Once Sturm, Begin and Ference are given medical clearance to return, the Boston Bruins will have a full roster, for the first time in recent memory.

Injuries have plagued the lineup this season, with Milan Lucic, Marc Savard, Byron Bitz, David Krejci, Mark Stuart, Patrice Bergeron, Shawn Thornton and Dennis Wideman all also missing several games with injuries—a long list that does not include a number of the players on the roster who, like many of their NHL colleagues, are playing through minor ailments of the season.

So as the B’s step out onto the ice in Buffalo tonight, whether Sturm or Begin join them, they’ll know that the full strength of the Big Bad Bruins should be back very soon.

“I skated yesterday a little bit,” Sturm said. “I’m still not 100%, but I’m very confident I will get back soon.”

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