PITTSBURGH -- Boston Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference wasn't sure he was ready to join the Eastern Conference Final after being idled three weeks with an injury.
But, he was eager to give it a try Saturday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 at Consol Energy Center.
It turned out he was ready. Ference played a little more than 17 minutes and assisted on the game-opening goal by David Krejci in a 3-0 victory.
“It’s kind of like jumping on a moving train obviously to come in at this point in the season," Ference said.
But, whatever rust Ference had to shake off disappeared relatively quickly and the veteran defender, who has won a Stanley Cup, played in another Cup Final and has more than 100 Stanley Cup Playoff games on his resume, delivered the patient, responsible game that Boston coach Claude Julien expected when he made the decision.
"He's an experienced defenseman," Julien said. "He's been through the battles. I thought the way he practiced this week, he could certainly be a guy that could step in, and he did just that."
While Ference admitted he was ecstatic to get back in the lineup, he knew it came at the expense of a teammate that was playing well. Matt Bartkowski, who is from the Pittsburgh area, was scratched for Game 1 after playing very well in the second-round victory against the New York Rangers.
"It's hard as a teammate to have to see Bart have to sit because he has family here and he has done such a great job in the last round. You know, you want to contribute anyway possible, whether you are playing or not. I think the further on you get in your career, you realize how important it is to be a support role and over anything you can.
"But, obviously, as a player you want to be out there and contributing. It's a great feeling to be in the room after good games."