Mark Stuart itching to return

Updated: January 14, 2011, 2:20 PM ET
By James Murphy | ESPNBoston.com

Wilmington, Mass. -- The Boston Bruins might be without defenseman Andrew Ference and forward Milan Lucic Saturday against the Penguins, but defenseman Mark Stuart could be on the ice.

Ference was missing from practice Friday after suffering what coach Claude Julien termed an undisclosed injury in the team's 7-5 win over Philadelphia Thursday night.

"Andrew suffered an upper body injury last night and he's deemed day to day," Julien said. "Very questionable for tomorrow, but after that I think we're hoping it's minor enough that we'll see him back soon."

Lucic, who suffered an undisclosed injury in the team's 4-2 win Monday against the Penguins, skated prior to practice Friday.

"Lucic is doing better," Julien said. "He skated today for the first time here and obviously another guy who is going to be questionable for tomorrow, but I think after that we can expect some good news because he's progressing well."

The always gritty and eager Stuart, out since Dec. 7 with a fractured right ring finger, deemed himself good to go after practicing with the team Friday and having taken part in the morning skate Thursday.

"I believe it is," Stuart told the media when asked if his hand was OK to play in a game. "But it's not up to me so ... I can't really project. I feel I could play tomorrow but the doctors and the coaches, it's whenever they feel like I'm ready and whenever they feel I can help the team."

Julien appreciated Stuart's eagerness to get back, but he stressed that Stuart has not been medically cleared to play.

"I think in Stuey's case, he hasn't been cleared medically; he's been cleared to practice but he hasn't been medically cleared to play," Julien said. "So it's certainly not my decision right now as we speak. I guess he said he's ready to go but that's Stuey being Stuey. He'll play with a broken arm if you let him and that's the kind of person he is. But no, he hasn't been cleared medically in what he's been through, so that's just a player anxious to get back, and I think that we respect him for that because that's the kind of guy he is. He'll do whatever it takes to be part of this team."

James Murphy covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com.

James Murphy

Bruins reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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