NEW YORK - Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference, enjoying perhaps the best start of his nine-year career, will be out for up to eight weeks after sustaining a fractured right tibia Thursday night when he was drilled by an Andrei Markov slap shot in Boston's 6-1 win over the Canadiens at TD Banknorth Garden.
"He'll be out a bit," said general manager Peter Chiarelli, who announced the injury less than an hour before the Bruins took on the Rangers last night at Madison Square Garden. "Maybe, collectively the whole year, he's been our best defenseman. He's played a solid game, moving the puck. We will miss him."
According to Chiarelli, Dr. George Theodore will perform the surgery tomorrow, inserting a pin to help stabilize the fracture and speed the healing process.
Chiarelli said initial imaging did not reveal the fracture (a common issue, often related to swelling).
"It's not a displaced fracture. In that way, it's a lot like [Chuck] Kobasew's injury," said Chiarelli, referring to the forward's broken leg that ended his season last March.
The shot hit Ference, 26, in the final moments of the second period. With play continuing, he regained his footing and continued to play in obvious pain before finally making his way to the bench, where he remained until the end of the period.
If he returns Jan. 15, he will have missed 27 games, roughly one-third of the 82-game schedule.
"You go through these things in the course of a season, and you deal with it," coach Claude Julien said. "It's a big loss for us. But someone has to step up, and this is an opportunity for [Matt] Hunwick to get in there."
Pound for poundMilan Lucic's right hand sported a half-dozen or so nicks from his beatdown of Habs defenseman Mike Komisarek Thursday night. Komisarek suffered an upper-body injury in the bout and will be sidelined at least a week, according to the Associated Press. Word around Montreal is that he separated his shoulder.
Many injuries incurred in hockey fights are caused by falls rather than punches, of which Komisarek absorbed many from the powerful Lucic.
"Could have been that," mused Lucic. "But when I fight, I like to grab guys like this . . . "
Lucic reached his left arm and cautiously grabbed a passerby high around the left shoulder, and cocked his right arm in mock fighting fashion.
"So something might have happened there when I grabbed him," he said.
Lucic (6 feet 4 inches) figured he and Komisarek brought a combined 470 pounds to the bout. The Bruins sophomore winger plays at just under 230, while Komisarek (6-4) plays at around 240.
"A lot of pounds there," said Lucic.
Smooth operatorJulien figures the smooth-skating Hunwick could grow into an effective puck carrier, a valuable commodity in today's game. No team has a sufficient amount of puck-lugging defensemen.
"I don't want to make comparisons, because I don't like to do that," said Julien, who was a defenseman in his playing days. "But his skating is very smooth, and in that way, he's like [Brian] Campbell in Chicago. He just glides on the ice. The way he skates, he could carry the puck like Campbell."
Hit or be hitThe Bruins were outhit, 38-37, in last night's 3-2 shootout loss to the Rangers. Aaron Ward (8) and Lucic (7) led the hit parade. Zdeno Chara chipped in with six hits, equaling Marc Staal, tops for the Rangers . . . Michael Ryder, with three shots, has gone seven straight games without a goal, and has only one strike since scoring in the season opener. He is working hard, but not necessarily in the areas where scorers are expected to score (read: in front of the net) . . . David Krejci won only 3 of 10 faceoffs . . . Dennis Wideman's shorthanded goal was the first this season for the Black and Gold . . . Play was delayed about two minutes during the shootout when officials couldn't figure if Nigel Dawes, New York's first shooter, put the puck by Thomas. Thomas collapsed on the puck, and it look as if he might have dragged it across the goal line, but replays couldn't get a good picture of the puck. No goal. "I don't think it was in," said a smiling Thomas. "As [former Bruin] Hannu Toivonen would say, I made the famous butt save. I think it was under my legs."
Something specialBoston's special teams have been at their best since Julien's arrival last season.
The power play has connected at 26.3 percent the last five games, although the Bruins went 0 for 2 against the Rangers.
The Bruins were 6 for 6 killing penalties last night and twice killed five-on-threes in the second period, one for more than 26 seconds and the other for 1:13.
The penalty-killing units have stopped 26 of 27 power plays (96.3 percent) in the last five games. Over the last 10 games, the Bruins (8-1-0-1) have outscored the opposition, 31-15 (shootout goals not included).