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Bruins Notebook

Ward suffers setback, again

Charley horse KO's defenseman

By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / January 4, 2009
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In his latest comeback from a sprained left ankle, Aaron Ward had sailed through three games with no limitations and looked well on his way to reclaiming his old spot on the Bruins' No. 1 shutdown defensive pairing.

Yesterday, Ward's progress was derailed.

According to coach Claude Julien, during Ward's only shift of the second period, the stay-at-home defenseman suffered a charley horse that knocked him out for the rest of the day.

Ward appeared to be injured sometime in the sequence when Buffalo made it a 3-1 game at 3:04. He ended the day with seven shifts for 5:52 of ice time. Ward's injury forced Dennis Wideman to play a season-high 32:32.

"Right now, he's being looked at," Julien said. "How severe is it? We don't know yet. These are all things we'll find out in the next few days."

Ward has appeared in 29 games this season. He sprained his ankle Nov. 29 against Detroit and sat out the next four games. He tried to return Dec. 12 but aggravated the injury and missed the next six matches.

Ference improves
Ward's injury was tempered by the good news on Andrew Ference, who was termed by Julien as being extremely close.

Ference skated in the morning with Petteri Nokelainen (shoulder) and Matt Lashoff (healthy scratch). He is on long-term injured reserve, but if he continues to progress, he could be back in action this week.

Ference is feeling much better coming off his fractured tibia than he did last season, when he struggled to regain his form after a knee sprain.

"Sometimes breaking a bone is better than spraining something," Julien said. "It heals a lot quicker and it heals a lot better. In his case, that's what happened.

"He's feeling a lot better right now. I talked to him after practice [Friday], and he feels he's getting pretty close and he feels comfortable. We made sure he battled it a little bit and pushed. He said everything was pretty positive."

Pass the jam
Phil Kessel scored his 24th goal yesterday when he took a power-play feed from Marc Savard and snapped a shot past goalie Ryan Miller.

But Kessel (16 shifts for 16:31 of ice time) was on the bench late in regulation, replaced on the No. 1 line by Chuck Kobasew.

"Probably, I'd say, a little bit of both," said Julien, when asked whether he made the move to reward Kobasew or send a message to another player. "We needed some jam.

"It was one of those games where we needed a little bit more jam. Chuck was providing us with some of that."

Carnival time
Today is the annual Bruins Wives' Charity Carnival at the Garden. The event will run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Highlights include autograph and photo sessions, a tour of the dressing room, and a Rock Band 2 competition. Prices range from $10 (kids 6 to 12) to $250 (non-season ticket-holders for the VIP autograph session). All proceeds go to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. For tickets, visit www.bostonbruins.com . . . Julien said Nokelainen will require more work in practice before he's ready for game action. "Conditioning-wise, he's been skating for a while and we've been pushing him pretty hard," said Julien. "But he had to get into those battle drills a little bit more. Once he feels comfortable, we can move forward with him as well." Once Nokelainen can dress, Martin St. Pierre (emergency recall) must be returned to Providence . . . Milan Lucic led all players with seven hits yesterday. Lucic assisted on Kessel's power-play goal.

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at fshinzawa@globe.com

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