-- While most of the Bruins would have been happy to have seen their 10-day break between series cut in half, Andrew Ference
was happy for the long respite because it allowed him the opportunity to get healthy and join the fray.
Whether he will take part in Friday's Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the Carolina Hurricanes
(7:30 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN, RIS) remains to be seen, but he is finally physically capable of playing for the first time since suffering a lower-body injury on April 4.
"It's probably a game-time decision," coach Claude Julien
said after an optional morning skate at the team's training facility, Ristuccia Arena. "He's feeling pretty good. I had a chat with him this morning, and now it's just a matter of thinking about it and making sure we do the right thing."
Ference missed the first-round sweep against Montreal, and Steve Montador
and Shane Hnidy
both played well as injury replacements for Ference and Matt Hunwick
, who was lost after a spleen injury in Game 1.
Ference has taken part in full practices for the past week and he believes he is ready to contribute to the cause.
"The last week has been a good progression to get ready," Ference said.
But he knows that doesn't mean he is automatically in the lineup.
Both Montador and Hnidy have earned the right to continue playing with their first-round performances. But Ference is a little more experienced than either and he brings more scoring punch (16 points in just 47 regular-season games) than either of the other two players, allowing Julien to better spread out his offensive threats on the blue line.
"At the end of the day, it's coach's decision," Ference said. "I wish I could say yes for myself, but it's their decision; their job to decide if I am ready."
Other than the Ference decision, it appears the Bruins will ice the same lineup that dominated the Montreal Canadiens
. In fact, the biggest question is whether or not the Bruins can quickly shake off the rust from such a long layoff.
Julien believes his team can, and points to Vancouver as a perfect example. The Canucks were off for more than a week after sweeping St. Louis in the first round, yet jumped out to an early 3-0 lead Thursday night against Chicago in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals and eventually held on for a 5-3 win.
"Everybody is wondering if we are going to be rested or rusty and I think Vancouver is a great example to take as they came out and played well in the first period," Julien said. "I expect our players to feel the same way; that we can come out and play the way we know we can and put all the excuses aside."