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Ferraro Knows His Role, Chipping In
By Tom Caron
It is clear that positions are up for grabs on the Bruins front lines. With Jason Allison, Dmitri Khristich, and Steve Heinze on the Bruins bench for the third period of the Bruins' 4-1 loss at Long Island on Tuesday (throw in defenseman Don Sweeney and you have Pat Burns' "six million dollars worth of players" being benched at crunch time), anyone making a strong case will get a chance to play.
Peter Ferraro isn't about to crack the team's top scoring line. But the fifth-year pro has been looking pretty good on the second line at times, as he battles back from a pair of injuries earlier this season.
He was signed in the off-season as a free agent, and the rap on the former University of Maine Black Bear was that his game was one-dimensional. He was all about offense, which was fine in Orono, and even Binghamton of the AHL, but not in The Show.
"No question, in the minors my role was to put the puck in the net and be a power play guy and things like that," said Ferraro. "But when you get to this level, you find out how much more of a complete player you have to be. I think being here has taught me to be more of a complete player and play on third and fourth lines. Basically I know that my role is being a third or fourth line guy going out there: just keep the puck out of our net and be reliable defensively."
He has done that and more. His plus nine is the top plus/minus ratio on the team, and his 11 points haven't hurt any. On a team that has struggled with injuries to its checking line of Tim Taylor, PJ Axelsson and Rob DiMaio, Ferraro has been a valuable asset. Not bad, considering the New York Rangers gave up on him this summer.
"Peter has worked extremely hard on his all-around game," said Bruins Assistant Coach Bob Francis, who works with the team's forwards. "I think the situation in New York is that there were high expectations on him as a first-round draft pick, but the type of player that he was they really didn't have a lot of room for at the time. "His history indicates that he can produce offensively. He is an offensive force but he has had to improve the other aspects of his game and I think he has. Now, it comes down to consistency."
Every time Ferraro approaches that consistency this season he has been injured. First, it was an injured shoulder, then he missed time suffering from post-concussion syndrome. The second injury was especially scary.
"It's like you're not yourself," said Ferraro. "For two weeks I was walking around in a daze. Some mornings I'll wake up and I'll still feel a little light headed and its frustrating to not feel like yourself. Any time you
have an injury to your head you know it's something you have to take with caution."
It's the first time Ferraro has gone a full season in an organization without his twin brother Chris, who just played in the AHL All-Star game as a member of the Hamilton Bulldogs (Edmonton's farm team). Peter says the split was tough at first, but he has stayed in close contact with his brother, even at a distance. Now, the Bruins need to get some distance between themselves and the teams battling for the last few spots in the playoffs.
"It's so tight, every point counts," said Ferraro. "Any game we can squeeze out a point or two, that's what we need to focus on. No matter what player you are or how much you make, you're never satisfied and never really content. You've always got to go out there and prove yourself no matter what you've done in this league. People want to know what you're doing today and the thing is, right now our main focus is winning hockey games, and doing whatever it takes to win those games."
So far, when he's healthy, Peter Ferraro is doing all the right things. It's a good example for other players on this struggling team to follow.
Tom Caron is the studio host for NESN's Boston Bruins telecast and also a co-host of Front Row, NESN's nightly sports magazine show. Questions and Comments are welcome through Feedback.
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