WILMINGTON - The Bruins were missing a key defenseman at practice yesterday.
Adam McQuaid caught his skate in a rut late in Tuesday’s victory over the Ottawa Senators and was forced to sit out the workout at Ristuccia Arena.
“We just felt it was better to keep him off the ice and we’ll kind of reevaluate his situation tomorrow,’’ said coach Claude Julien. “Hopefully, we’ll get him back on the ice tomorrow.’’
If he’s unable to play against the Hurricanes tonight at TD Garden, it isn’t all bad news. At least the Bruins can look forward to the return of defenseman Andrew Ference.
Ference was suspended three games by the league for his hit on Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh Jan. 21.
“Anybody coming back is going to be a welcome addition right now,’’ said Julien. “He’s an experienced player who has had a really good year for us. He’s been as steady as we could ever ask for from a defenseman, so we’re going to be happy to have him back, especially in the situation that McQuaid is in right now.
“If he’s not 100 percent, you want to make sure you have a player who’s pretty healthy, and that’s the case with Ference. He’s ready to go.’’
According to Ference, he is more than ready to go, because with the suspension and the All-Star break, he hasn’t played a hockey game for 11 days.
“It’s spread out for sure,’’ said Ference. “It’s a rest - not really a needed rest - but nevertheless, I got the skates in [during] practice, so no big deal.’’
Ference said watching from the press box is not a lot of fun. He also has had to do it while recovering from injuries.
“I know some people benefit from it, but I don’t feel like I get any benefits from watching from the press box,’’ he said. “It’s a totally different sport from up there. It’s easier to talk to guys about certain plays because you see everything happen, but to really put yourself in the situation, it’s kind of removed from it.’’
It was frustrating to sit out so long when healthy.
“If you’re injured or a little banged up, it’s the greatest thing in the world,’’ he said. “If you’re not, if you’re healthy, you’d rather not take any break at all. So, this year I’m healthy. If you’re healthy, it’s better not to take breaks.’’
Horton not ready
Right wing Nathan Horton is continuing his recovery from a concussion. “He’s still not capable of skating,’’ said Julien. “I know our doctors evaluate him and they like the progress he’s making, but he’s not ready yet.’’ . . . Despite the victory Tuesday, Julien said his team is still in a bit of a funk. “Our game isn’t as good as we know it can be,’’ said the coach. “We’re trying to work our way out of it. We’re trying to pick up the pace of our game and bring it to where it should be. In the third period [against Ottawa], I thought we played pretty well. We certainly dominated that period. The first period was OK. It wasn’t that bad, it was pretty even, but the second period is what really tarnished our game. So we have to be careful we don’t read too much into it and address the areas we need to address and that’s what we did. Our game is not very good right now. We’re doing a lot of running around. It only takes one guy to start that and then it throws everybody off. Our system is more about playing your position and letting the guys who are going to be coming with the puck come to you in your area. Right now, we’re running out of our areas and it just throws everybody else off.’’
Tonight is the fourth and final game of the season with the Hurricanes. The Bruins lost all three previous meetings. “I don’t think we’ve played really well against them,’’ said Julien. “I’d like to see at least our team play a real solid game and maybe the outcome would be a little bit different. That’s not to take anything away from them. Some teams have confidence against certain teams, and this year, they seem to be able to play us really well. We gave them that opportunity in the first month of the season. They’re coming in here with a lot of confidence and we need to look at this game as an opportunity to kind of put the clocks back to the right time here. We think we’re a better team than what we’ve shown against them.’’