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Bruins get boost from changes on defense

by Matt Kalman

BOSTON – The Boston Bruins made one change to their defensive corps between Games 1 and 2 of their Eastern Conference Second Round series with the Montreal Canadiens.

Defenseman Andrej Meszaros replaced Matt Bartkowski, who had played four straight games dating back to the first round against the Detroit Red Wings.

Against Montreal, Meszaros had an assist and took one minor penalty in 16:35 of ice time.

"It's not what he [Meszaros] gave me, it's what we decided to do," Bruins coach Claude Julien said during an off day Sunday. "It's as simple as that. I think we felt we needed a change and we made that."

Although Julien wouldn't elaborate on his decision, Bartkowski's play had an impact on Boston's Game 1 loss. The defenseman, who missed the first two games of the Stanley Cup Playoffs with an illness, took two penalties against the Canadiens, including one that led to defenseman P.K. Subban's game-winning goal in double overtime. Bartkowski also struggled on breakouts and with decision making in 26:26 of ice time. He had a plus-1 rating.

Now, Julien will have to make a decision about who to play on the back end as the rest of the best-of-7 series unfolds. It's tied 1-1 heading into Game 3 at Bell Centre on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS). It didn't seem like Meszaros hurt his case for more playing time and said he knew what his mandate was when he was inserted.

"You have to play your best hockey, obviously. And as a defenseman you have to defend well in your own zone and try to support the forwards and try to shoot the puck, get it down there and maybe create some chances," Meszaros said. "But overall you have to be solid defensively and get beat in front of the net or off the walls. So just regular things that are probably for any defenseman on our team."

One player Julien won't have available is defenseman Adam McQuaid, who is rehabilitating a quad injury that has kept him out of the lineup since Jan. 19. The Bruins announced Sunday that the veteran recently underwent successful arthroscopic surgery on his ankle; no other details were released.

Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, who has been out since Dec. 27 with an ACL/MCL injury, continued to skate along with Bartkowski and two likely scratches, defenseman Corey Potter and forward Justin Florek.

Forward Chris Kelly (back) hasn't skated since he left the lineup on April 8. Julien didn't have a timetable for Kelly's return, but confirmed that his condition was improving.

"Every day is a better day for him, so that's basically all I can tell you about him," he said.

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