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May 4, 2013

Bruins juggle defense; Leafs address problems

BOSTON — Claude Julien had no choice.

The Bruins coach was forced to juggle his defense when Andrew Ference was suspended.

Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle could have kept things the same, but that wouldn’t have been wise.

Not after Boston dominated Toronto 4-1 in the first game of their series.

Not after his players were outshot 40-20.

And certainly not after they kept committing turnovers and having trouble getting the puck out of their zone.

“We’ll have some changes,” Carlyle said after practice on Friday for Game 2 on Saturday night. “What we’ve tried to do is just try to up the tempo of moving the puck.”

Did that message at practice get through?

“Of course, I think it’s gotten through,” he said, “but the results are what’s going to determine whether it has or hasn’t.”

The loss of Ference, a 13-year veteran and part of Boston’s second defensive pairing, is a setback.

The NHL suspended him for one game for elbowing Mikhail Grabovski in the head near the boards midway through the first period Wednesday night.

One possible replacement is Dougie Hamilton, who has had a strong rookie season but was a healthy scratch for the last three regular-season games and the first playoff game. He was drafted in the first round in 2011 with a pick acquired when the Bruins traded Phil Kessel to the Maple Leafs in September 2009.

“I grew up watching the playoffs and dreaming about playing in the playoffs,” Hamilton said. “Hopefully, I can bring some intensity.”

Ference didn’t think his absence would be costly.

“Guys will step right in and it’ll be no problem,” he said. “Whether it’s an injury or something like this, guys step up and do the job.”

During practice on Friday, Julien broke up his top pairing of Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg. Chara skated with Adam McQuaid, Seidenberg was with Johnny Boychuk, and Hamilton was paired with Wade Redden, who had a goal and an assist Wednesday night.

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