SUNRISE, Fla. — After two games in the press box watching the Bruins’ defensive system, Andrej Meszaros was granted his release from the cheap seats Sunday. Taking the opportunity afforded by back-to-back games in Florida, coach Claude Julien was able to ease in the newly acquired defenseman against the Panthers.
And, in the process, Julien sent young defenseman Dougie Hamilton, who struggled Saturday against Tampa Bay, to the press box for a night.
“I think Dougie Hamilton has played really good hockey,” Julien said. “He’s been good for us, and offensively he continues to be good. He struggles at times defensively. We’re going to pull him back and continue to work with him. Certainly he’s a guy that we want in our lineup.
“It’s a one-game situation where I said, this is an opportunity to see Meszaros, back-to-back game you’ve got a fresh guy in and we’ve got another guy that we want to continue to work with.”
Hamilton has played in 47 of the Bruins’ 64 games, losing time to an MCL sprain and concussion symptoms this season. This was his third healthy scratch of the season. He was scratched in the fourth and fifth games of the season, at Columbus and at home against Detroit.
Meszaros, meanwhile, looked like he was adapting well to the Bruins’ zone system, having come from a man-to-man system in Philadelphia. He took Hamilton’s spot alongside Zdeno Chara, seeing time on the power play, and leading the team with five shots on net in his 20:36 of ice time.
He also scored his sixth goal of the season at 9:58 of the second period on the power play to open the scoring for Boston. Initially the goal was credited to Carl Soderberg, but it eventually was given back to Meszaros on his shot from the right point.
“Offensively, he did some real good things on the power play,” Julien said. “His shot, he utilized a lot. We saw that quite a bit, and defensively moving the puck with Zdeno he was pretty good.
“But you could sense there was times when he was thinking, he’s trying to adjust to a new kind of system. Again, we talk about him being used to playing man-on-man and now it’s not so much. But I thought he was good for his first game.”
Meszaros said he had spent time with assistant coach Doug Houda watching video, in addition to the two games on the ninth floor of TD Garden. And while it wasn’t perfect, Meszaros felt relatively at ease in his first chance with his new team.
“I felt good,” Meszaros said. “I was excited because I haven’t played for a while, so it was good to go out there and play. There’s obviously some areas I have to work on, and that comes with practice and hopefully more games and go from there. Overall I felt pretty good.”
Paille takes hit
Daniel Paille was knocked out of the game just 3:06 in, a hit from Ed Jovanovski ending his night after just one shift. The forward played just 1:20, forcing Julien to shuffle his lines.
“Doctors didn’t allow him to come back,” Julien said. “He took that hit. I’m told it’s not very serious. Those are hard to comment on because you never know, but he feels pretty good after the game. I saw him. So hopefully just a minor bump.”
Paille will remain with the team for the rest of the trip. It’s not yet known if he will play on Wednesday in Montreal.
Dream is over
Despite Tim Thomas’s exit from the Panthers — he was traded Wednesday to the Dallas Stars — Florida went ahead with a Thomas bobblehead giveaway at Sunday’s game. The team paired it with a free poster of new goaltender Roberto Luongo, a reminder to fans that the “#dreamteam” in goal that Luongo tweeted about after the his trade from Vancouver to Florida was not to be . . . The Bruins are spending Monday in Florida before traveling to Montreal on Tuesday. They will get a road day off . . . With his 550th goal, Jarome Iginla broke a tie with Ron Francis for 26th all-time. Up next? The Bruins’ own Johnny Bucyk, with 556. “[Jordan Caron] told me,” Iginla said. “[Bucyk], he joked with me at the beginning of the year. But, no, it’s cool. And I didn’t know he was next up, but I did hear guys were joking today that Chief was six away, so pretty cool.” Bucyk is around the team every day as the Bruins’ director of road services . . . With the GM meetings starting Monday in Boca Raton, NHL senior vice president of hockey operations Colin Campbell was in the press box at the BB&T Center, getting a chance to watch his son Gregory play in person.Amalie Benjamin can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.