WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Boston Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference practiced with his teammates Tuesday at Ristuccia Arena.
The veteran has been out of game action since Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Toronto Maple Leafs on May 5. He missed all of the conference semifinals against the New York Rangers and only just recently started skating with strength and conditioning coach John Whitesides.
As for Ference's availability in the upcoming Eastern Conference Finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the blueliner's status is up in the air.
"It's a good sign that he's practicing with us," Bruins coach Claude Julien said after his team followed two days off with an hour-long practice. "I don't know, it's a medical issue that unless the trainers say it's a go -- and sometimes he may be ready but could be risky kind of ready -- I've got to wait and see what the trainers see and also how Andrew feels as well before I make a decision on him."
Ference said he wasn't limited in what he could do during the practice.
"Today was my fifth day on the ice. So it's been really good," he said. "Obviously it's different when you get other guys on the ice and can actually practice. But to have four days completely on your own doing hockey school, it's nice. It really is. It's kind of actually rare to get that kind of ice time to just kind of do exactly what you need as an individual. So it was beneficial."
The Bruins were able to beat the Maple Leafs and Rangers despite being shorthanded, thanks to the contributions of rookies Dougie Hamilton, Matt Bartkowski and Torey Krug. Even if Ference joins Dennis Seidenberg among the returned veteran defensemen, Boston will still need at least one rookie because it doesn't sound like Wade Redden is particularly close to playing.
"I think to answer that, in a pinch, if we needed him I'm sure we could use him," Julien said about Redden.