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Expect to see Ward in uniform tonight?

Posted by Kevin Paul Dupont, Globe Staff  January 21, 2009 01:04 PM

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TORONTO -- Bruins coach Claude Julien, a half-dozen of his better forwards and blueliners on the sidelines, figures veteran defenseman Aaron Ward probably will be able to join the blueline corps for tonight's contest at the ACC against the Leafs.

''Yeah,'' said Julien, ''Aaron Ward might get back.''

Ward was one of only a handful of Bruins who suited up for this morning's workout. There are mandatory workouts. There are optional workouts. And then there are workouts such as this morning, best coined ''designated'' workouts.

Only five players were ''designated'' -- the word scribbled on the dressing room message board -- to work out under the watchful eyes of assistant coaches Doug Houda and Geoff Ward. The group included goalie Manny Fernandez, Andrew Ference, Milan Lucic, Matt Lashoff and Ward.

Otherwise, following a couple of brief team meetings, regarding power play and the like, players came and went as they pleased. Most of them took their time getting back in street clothes and making their way back to the club's nearby hotel.

The likes of Blake Wheeler, David Krejci, Vladimir Sobotka and Matt Hunwick formed a circle in the hallway, at ice-level, and kicked around a soccer ball. Constant arguments flared up over technique and style, which is what the exercise is truly about, of course. We all know only Europeans truly understand the game.

Provided Ward returns, Julien likely will opt to stick with six defensemen, which probably points to Matt Lashoff watching from the press box. Some coaches prefer to dress seven defensemen when a blueliner is back from injury, but Julien traditionally goes with a 12-forward, 6-defenseman approach.

Julien never offers up his starting goalie when meeting with the media in the morning. But yesterday, when a member of the Toronto media pack asked, ''Are we fair to speculate that Tim Thomas will be your starting goalie?'' the coach flatly said, ''Yes.''

So, is Thomas the starting goalie? We will find out for sure closer to the 7:30 p.m. puck drop, but a few members of the Bruins traveling party believe Manny Fernandez will get the start.

Julien, after noting that Ward likely could play tonight, said, ''The other two are close.'' The other two are Lucic (shoulder injury) and Ference (recovering from surgery to repair a leg fracture).

Why the light workout this morning?

''We haven't had a day off in a couple of Sundays,'' said Julien. ''It's about how you're feeling about your team.

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