Ference (groin) could be ready for Gm. 1

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- The Boston Bruins held their first practice Tuesday morning at Ristuccia Arena in preparation for their upcoming first-round playoff series against the Buffalo Sabres.

It's also that time of the year when players are bruised and banged up after an arduous 82-game season. Bruins oft-injured defenseman Andrew Ference, who missed 17 of the last 21 regular-season games due to a groin/hernia injury, practiced with the team and is a possibility to play Thursday's Game 1 in Buffalo.

Ference said he feels good enough to play, but added the decision will be up to coach Claude Julien.

"It's as good as it's going to get," Ference said of his injury.

Julien, for his part, said there's a good chance Ference will be available.

As much as Ference wants to play -- especially given the fact he signed a three-year contract extension March 24 worth $6.75 million -- he knows there's that fine line between playing, and hurting both himself and the team.

"It's not important that I'm in there, it's important that healthy people are in there who can help benefit the team," Ference said. "If my injury is good enough then obviously I'll do anything I can to get in the lineup. I've said before, you have to know where that line is of being selfish and helping the team. If it's not good enough it's not going to help the team to be in there. I've worked hard to get it back to where it is now and hopefully it's good enough to play."

He missed a total of 31 games this season, but hopes his body can hold up long enough to get through at least one playoff series.

"If I get lucky," he said. "According to the doctors and according to my past experience, I could get hurt right away or it could last an entire playoffs. It won't be normal until after the season."

Depending on how bad the swelling is, Ference's offseason surgery could come within a couple of weeks, or a month after the Bruins' playoffs are over.

In other injury news, forward Marc Savard (Grade 2 concussion) and defenseman Mark Stuart (hand infection) likely will not be available for the series against the Sabres, according to Julien. The coach called it "very doubtful" that either will be back.