By Matt Kalman, CBS Boston

WILMINGTON (CBS) – Now that his first-ever NHL suspension has been served, Andrew Ference is ready to return to action for the Bruins on Thursday night.

The veteran defenseman, who prides himself on clean play and clean living, said that even though he can now be considered a repeat offender should another reviewable offense occur, he doesn’t feel that his good name has been dragged through the mud.

“I don’t have to register in my neighborhood, so … So I think it’s all right,” said a flippant Ference after the Bruins practiced at Ristuccia Arena.

Ference’s three-game ban for his collision with New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh on Jan. 21 ended with the Bruins’ 4-3 win Tuesday night at the TD Garden. In his absence, Boston allowed 12 goals (one empty-netter) and compiled a 2-1-0 record.

Unlike Brad Marchand’s five-game ban that flew by in just eight days, Ference’s three-gamer took 10 days because of the All-Star break. While Ference didn’t skate during the days off, he’s been practicing hard on off days and working extra hard on game days.

“It’s spread out, that’s for sure. It’s a rest. Not a needed rest, but nevertheless you get skates in at practice, so it’s no big deal,” he said.

Unlike many players, Ference says he doesn’t see the benefit from watching games from up above the rink during time off.

“It’s just like coming back from an injury or something like that, where you’re just watching, doing your workouts off the ice and you don’t see the game the way you normally do from up top,” he explained. “So … I know some people benefit from it. I don’t feel like I get any benefit from watching from the press box. It’s a totally different sport from up there. But you see guys and it’s easier to talk to guys about certain plays because you see everything happen. But to really put yourself in the situation, you’re kind of removed from it.”

Against Carolina on Thursday, Ference is scheduled to escape the Garden press box and get back into action. The Bruins might need him to carry a heavy workload should Adam McQuaid, who didn’t practice because of a lower-body injury, is unavailable.

Should the puck once again get dumped in deep in the offensive zone and Ference decides to chase it down with a Hurricanes player, the three-game suspension and incident with McDonagh might be in the back of his mind. But he’s not about to change his approach to the game.

“There’s not a whole lot of options. The thing about that play, you know, I kind of just for my own amusement watched the games and that type of play happens a lot in the course of a game. It doesn’t usually result in a guy falling and it’s usually at a little slower speed,” said Ference. “You know, that situation happens all the time and situations that guys can fall awkwardly or anything. It’s a common thing. It just doesn’t happen that often because guys have good balance and stay up. So, I don’t know, next time I’ll get the puck and score I guess. I don’t know. Every situation is different. But honestly if that situation happens, you try to let up and you try to do what I did. You don’t plant him into the boards, you try to let up as much as possible and hope things work out.”


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