Andrew Ference Not Buying Into Hype, Sees Montreal Matchup as ‘Just Another Hockey Game’

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March 24, 2011

Andrew Ference Not Buying Into Hype, Sees Montreal Matchup as 'Just Another Hockey Game' WILMINGTON, Mass. — From the time the NHL schedule was released last summer, this one was destined to be special.

The last regular season meeting of the year between ancient rivals Montreal and Boston, Original Six clubs that seemingly put together a classic clash every time they meet? Yes, that one was worth circling on the calendar.

Then the teams combined for 182 penalty minutes in a wild 8-6 Bruins win at the Garden on Feb. 9, followed by Zdeno Chara's controversial hit on Max Pacioretty in Montreal on March 8. Now Thursday's rematch at the Garden was certainly going to be one for the ages, right?

Not so fast. At least one Bruin wasn't willing to go along with that storyline, as veteran defenseman Andrew Ference refuses to buy into the hype surrounding the matchup.

"Everybody is saying 'a game like this,' but it's just another hockey game," Ference said after Wednesday's practice at Ristuccia Arena. "It's just as important as the two points [Tuesday] night. You know it's a rivalry and the standings are tight, but beyond that, you guys [in the media] build it up a lot more than we do. We prepare for it like we try to get the two points in every other game."

Beyond the bad blood in the season series, this one certainly seems like it should carry a little more weight than the average regular-season game. After all, it represents a four-point swing in a tight race for the Northeast Division crown. The Bruins come in with a three-point lead. A win extends that edge to five points and with two games in hand, Boston would have a virtual stranglehold on the division title.

A Montreal win would cut the lead to just one point, and even with two less games left to play, the Habs would be in position to wrest the title and home ice as the No. 3 seed in the East away from the Bruins.

Those stakes don't hold much weight with Ference, however, as he steadfastly sticks to the consistent approach he feels is necessary for success over the course of a long season.

"It doesn't matter if it's Montreal or another team, points are points," Ference said. "If you start approaching games based on your opponent, you're not going to be a very good system team and you're not going to be a very good team because you'll empty for some matchups and supercharged for others.

"That's not the way it works," Ference added. "You have to have consistency, and that means preparing for every opponent and treating every opponent as important as the last. It's disappointing for hype, but it's good for making playoffs like we have for the last, what it is four years? That's how you do it, by consistently preparing for every game, whether it's a big rivalry or not."

Not every Bruin shares that view completely. Forward Milan Lucic recognizes that the packed house filling the Garden on Thursday will give this game a little different feel from most regular-season encounters. And Lucic wouldn't have it any other way.

"You definitely want to use it to your advantage," Lucic said. "There's nothing better than feeding off your home crowd. No matter when we're playing the Canadiens, there's nothing that Bruins like to see more than when we beat them. That's our main focus to do that, and we have to do whatever we can to feed off that crowd. There is going to be a lot of energy in the building and I'm sure it's going to be a lot of fun."

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