Bruins defenseman Ference returns for playoffs

Boston defenseman Andrew Ference will play for the Bruins in

Game 1 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the

Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night.

Ference was declared ready to go after missing the final nine

games of the regular season because of a hernia.

The addition of Ference bolsters a depleted Bruins blue line.

Defenseman Mark Stuart (finger) and Dennis Seidenberg (arm

laceration) continue to be out.

Ference, who signed a three-year contract extension in March,

didn’t score a goal in 51 games for Boston this season.

The Sabres will be without two of their top six forwards

Thursday. Jochen Hecht is out indefinitely after undergoing finger

surgery, and Drew Stafford is still working his way back from a

concussion sustained in the second-to-last game of the season.