Quick hits: Sabres at Bruins

BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins held their game-day skate this morning at the TD Garden in preparation for their game against the Northeast Division-leading Buffalo Sabres.

Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference (groin/hernia) again was not on the ice and was getting checked out, according to head coach Claude Julien.

“This will give us a clear indication of where he is at this moment,” he said. “Hopefully by the end of the day his status will be a little clearer.”

Ference, who signed a three-year contract extension worth $6.75 million last week, has missed a total of 23 games this season with the injury and said he will have surgery once the season is over. Julien didn’t know whether or not Ference will have the procedure sooner rather than later.

“I can’t answer that. I don’t have all the details,” said Julien. “We need to find out a little more about his situation and we know it’s been touch and go.”

Here are some other brief notes from this morning:

* The Sabres (41-23-10) sit in the No. 3 spot in the Eastern Conference standings with 92 points and have a game in hand on the fourth-place Devils (44-26-5). Julien knows it’s going to be a tough game against Buffalo tonight, especially with Ryan Miller (37-16-8 with a 2.21 GAA and a .929 save percentage) in net for the Sabres.

“We’re playing against the top team in our division and we’re playing a team that has a pretty good goaltender. He’s been good for them all year and has been a big key to their success,” said Julien. “It’s a team, over the course of this season, we’ve played very well, but these are big games for all the teams right now. They have a lot to play for and so do we.”

* Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas was the first one off the ice this morning, so he’ll make his second consecutive start. He posted his fifth shutout of the season on Saturday in a 5-0 win over the Calgary Flames where he finished with 31 saves.

* Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk will play tonight and it appears he won’t be suspended for his elbowing penalty and game misconduct against the Flames on Saturday.

“To me, I didn’t think it was as serious as the call was made,” said Julien. “His stick was up, but it was his arm that hit [Flames’ Rene Bourque] and the referees made the decision that they thought they had to. We all a little sensitive with the head shots right now, but the league obviously reviewed it and I’m sure we would have heard about it by now. I think it’s time to turn the page on that. He’s cleared to play and we’re going to move on.”