Andrew Ference Suffers Lower-Body Injury, But Greg Zanon Shows Importance of Improved Defensive Depth in Bruins Debut

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Andrew Ference Suffers Lower-Body Injury, But Greg Zanon Shows Importance of Improved Defensive Depth in Bruins DebutBOSTON – The Bruins bounced back from Tuesday's frustrating shutout loss to Ottawa with a much stronger effort on Thursday, but the 4-3 overtime win over the Devils did come at a cost.

Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference left the game early and did not return.

"He suffered a lower-body injury," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "They took him out instead of forcing it. What I've been told is we'll know [Friday] how severe it is and whether he's going to be fine or if it's going to go the other way."

Losing Ference for any significant amount of time will be a serious blow to the Bruins, but the club is in better shape to withstand a loss on the blue line after adding defensemen Greg Zanon and Mike Mottau at Monday's trade deadline.

Zanon made his debut on Thursday, and was a solid presence on the back end. He finished with three blocked shots, three hits and a shot in 14:58.

"I liked his game," Julien said. "He did exactly what he's known for. Blocked a lot of shots, decent hands the way he was moving the puck. He was a pretty solid player for us tonight."

Zanon played a bigger role than the Bruins may have anticipated in his first game with the team, with both Ference's injury and Joe Corvo's continued struggled leading to more ice time for Zanon. It also led to Zanon playing with a variety of partners after starting the night alongside Adam McQuaid, but Zanon welcomed the chance to share the ice with all of Boston's blueliners.

"I mean obviously you don't like seeing anybody to go down hurt, but obviously you get a chance to get in there, get a lot of reps playing against top guys," Zanon said. "You just get a good feel for the way everybody plays, and the way the system is played and I had a real good time too."

"I think if you get to play with everybody you're just in the game," Zanon added. "You don't even think about, 'What am I going to do now.' You hear your name called and you go out there and do what you need to do to get the puck to the forwards so we can get up and out of our zone."

Corvo had more trouble doing that. His giveaway in the neutral zone led to New Jersey's first goal in the second period as Ilya Kovalchuk intercepted Corvo's pass at center ice and led a 2-on-1 break that was finished by Zach Parise.

Corvo was also on the ice for New Jersey's second goal, when Patrik Elias banged in a rebound at the left post when left unchecked on Corvo's side of the ice. Corvo was benched after that, but returned in the third after Ference went down.

"I don't know how you want me to answer that because I don't throw my players under the bus," Julien said when asked about cutting Corvo's ice time. "Obviously he had a bit of a tough outing, but we used him again. Not the easiest night for Joe, but at the end we needed him so he came back out there."

The Bruins will need all the depth they have on defense if Ference joins Johnny Boychuk, who missed his second game with a mild concussion, on the sidelines.

Have a question for Douglas Flynn? Send it to him via Twitter at @douglasflynn or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

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