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Bruins Notebook

Ference could pay a big price for gesture

By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / April 22, 2011

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MONTREAL — Four networks — NESN, CBC, Versus, and RDS — were rinkside to broadcast last night’s game at the Bell Centre. So, it was all but certain that at least one camera would capture Andrew Ference reminding Canadiens fans what number Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo wears.

In the second period, Ference slapped a spinner over Carey Price’s glove to trim Montreal’s lead to 3-2. Ference circled and raised his stick with his right hand. Then with his left, Ference raised his middle finger to send the universally recognizable message.

“I don’t know what that means,’’ a straight-faced Chris Kelly said of Ference’s gesture. “Maybe he had family in the crowd.’’

After the Bruins’ 5-4 overtime win, Ference said he didn’t intend to flip the bird.

“It looks awful,’’ said Ference. “I just saw it. I can assure you that’s not part of my repertoire. I don’t know if my glove got caught up or what. I can assure you that’s not part of who I am or what I ever have been. It looks awful. I admit it. I completely apologize to how it looks. But I can assure you — you guys have covered me long enough to know that’s not part of my repertoire. I was putting my fist in the air. I’m sorry. It does look awful. I don’t know what else to say.’’

Ference could be disciplined for the one-fingered salute. Earlier this season, Montreal defenseman James Wisniewski, then with the Islanders, was suspended for two games for making a lewd gesture at the Rangers’ Sean Avery.

“All I can do is tell you the truth. And that’s the truth,’’ Ference said of his intentions. “I totally agree that it does look bad. But I can assure you that’s not part of who I am or what I ever will be. I know it looks bad, but I think my glove got caught up there, pumping my fist. I don’t score too many goals. That’s about all I have in my repertoire.’’

Ference had a goal and two hits in 19:56 of ice time. If Ference is suspended, the Bruins would be without a valuable two-way defenseman.

“I didn’t see it, so I can’t comment,’’ coach Claude Julien said. “I’ve heard about it. I didn’t see it at all. I haven’t even had a chance to talk to Andrew. If you ask me, I’m surprised. Because that’s not Andrew at all. I’m shocked. Again, I don’t know whether it happened or what. But I’d be very surprised. That’s not his style at all.’’

Killer instinct At 17:41 of the third period, with the score tied at 4-4, Dennis Seidenberg took a zero-doubt interference penalty against Tomas Plekanec. The Bruins, who had allowed a P.K. Subban power-play goal earlier in the third, were facing their biggest kill of the season.

They came through.

“It was important for us to stand tall, not to panic, and have everybody come up big,’’ said Julien. “They had some chances. But we also did a pretty good job, at times, of blocking shots and showing some desperation of killing that penalty. Those guys deserve a lot of credit for doing that.’’

Halfway through the kill, Gregory Campbell threw himself in front of a Subban blast. Later on the shift, Tim Thomas got in front of Brian Gionta’s shot from the slot.

“I thought we did a good job killing that penalty,’’ said Kelly . “I think there was 2:19 left in the game. Your best penalty killer has to be your goalie. He was. We didn’t give them too many clear opportunities.’’

During the regular season, the Bruins racked up 11 shorthanded goals, third most in the league. But in the playoffs, they aren’t necessarily sniffing for shorties. And that may be one reason why they’ve given up only two power-play goals to the Canadiens.

“We were worrying too much about scoring on the penalty kill and going on offense,’’ Brad Marchand, before the game, said of the Bruins’ approach late in the regular season. “We weren’t just shooting pucks down. We were trying to make plays. I think that was getting us in a little bit of trouble. We just got back to doing simple things — shooting it down, playing our positions, not trying to do too much out there. It’s worked out OK for us.’’

The Bruins have been featuring a tight penalty-killing box in front of Thomas. Marchand scored five regular-season shorthanded goals, third most in the NHL behind Islanders Frans Nielsen (seven) and Michael Grabner (six). But Marchand and his penalty-killing mates have been less aggressive at the points. Instead, they’ve been sinking back into their zone defense and making simple plays.

One deterrent to an aggressive penalty kill has been Price, considered one of the slicker stickhandlers among goalies. He can be dangerous when wandering from the crease and playing pucks up to his teammates. To counter Price’s abilities, the Bruins have been content to shoot pucks hard into the zone and rim them around the boards.

“We don’t want to run around too often,’’ said Daniel Paille. “Price plays the puck well. If we try to chase him, he gets the puck going the other way. Then we’re a man down and they can have a four-on-two. Our main focus is just to stay tight and try not to do too much.’’

Cage match Kelly played while wearing a full cage. The Bruins feared he had suffered a facial fracture after Scott Gomez shoved him into the Montreal net in Game 3. Kelly was in Boston for an examination on Wednesday instead of practicing in Lake Placid, N.Y.

Team doctors concluded that Kelly hadn’t suffered a fracture. But they recommended he wear a cage as a precaution.

Kelly, who normally wears a visor, said he last wore a cage when he was 14.

Kelly brushed off any criticism of the hit, for which Gomez was whistled for interference.

“It’s a hockey play,’’ Kelly said. “It’s part of the game. I know Gomez. I’ve played against him for a lot of years. He’s a good, honest player and works hard. I don’t think it was deliberate by any means.’’

Vezina finalists today The NHL today will release the list of finalists for the Vezina Trophy, awarded annually to the league’s top netminder. Thomas is expected to be among the three . . . Patrice Bergeron won 17 of 29 faceoffs, and has a 63.1 winning percentage, fourth best in the playoffs behind the Capitals’ Boyd Gordon (66 percent), the Rangers’ Chris Drury (65.5), and the Sharks’ Joe Thornton (63.6). “He’s been great,’’ Marchand said. “He’s so strong. I think the biggest thing about that part is you’re starting with the puck instead of having to chase it. Whoever plays most with the puck usually ends up winning the game. It’s big for us. We have a lot of opportunities off the draw, a lot of plays that we can set and get pucks to the net. It’s huge. Bergy’s done a great job on that for us.’’

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at fshinzawa@globe.com.

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