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Patrice Bergeron, Milan Lucic, Andrew Ference to return tonight

01.27.09 at 8:38 am ET

Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli said Monday night in an interview with NESN anchor Tom Caron that injured skaters Patrice Bergeron, Andrew Ference and Milan Lucic are all likely to suit up and play tonight against the Washington Capitals (7 p.m.) at the TD Banknorth Garden.

“In all likelihood it looks like we’re going to have three players back (Tuesday),” said Chiarelli. “Patrice Bergeron, Ference and Lucic will all be back. (Phil) Kessel is still under the weather a little bit with the mono. We’ll look at it in another week and see where he’s at, but he’s coming along nicely too.”

Bergeron has been out since Dec. 20 when he suffered a concussion after colliding with Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Dennis Seidenberg at the neutral zone, and the 23-year-old has been practicing at the wing position since getting back on the ice. While some have concluded that the wing is a more physically demanding spot in the current Bruins system, the Boston decision makers appear to be moving Bergeron off center in an effort to protect a young player recovering from his second concussion.

Bergeron was the B’s best faceoff man from the center position during the first portion of the season and last played wing four years ago — a switch that will certainly facilitate some level of adjustment from the young skater. Bergeron had engaged in non-contact skating with the team for several weeks leading up to the All-Star break, but his return is by far the biggest surprise of the three.

Ference hasn’t played in a game since breaking his right tibia back on Nov. 13 blocking a shot while killing a penalty against the Montreal Canadiens, and has missed the last 31 games following a great start to his season this year. Nobody is expecting the 29-year-old to pick up exactly where he left off back in November, but Ference will give a needed boost to the defensemen depth and the second power play unit. 

Lucic missed the seven games leading up to the All-Star break with a shoulder injury, and teams like the Washington Capitals noticeably raised the level of chippiness and physicality without Big Looch’s physical presence in the lineup. The 20-year-old might have been healthy enough to return just prior to the break, but should benefit from the extra healing time and look to put a hurting on a Capitals that took runs at Marc Savard and Dennis Wideman last week.

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