Newfound confidence making Paille a threat

Newfound confidence making Paille a threat
May 8, 2013, 1:30 am
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TORONTO – A season or two ago, Bruins fourth liner Daniel Paille might not have finished off the shorthanded goal that finally ended things for the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 3.

Instead of using multiple moves and engaging his hands with a little backhanded action that beat James Reimer after he picked Phil Kessel’s pocket at the blue line, Paille might have just wound up from the slot, closed his eyes and ripped a shot at the Toronto goaltender while hoping the puck would leak through. But a little more confidence with the puck has been one of the real side benefits of this hockey season for the fourth-line left winger. Paille finished with the most goals (10) and points (17) for the Bruins since his first year with Boston after an early season trade with the Buffalo Sabres, and has allowed the B’s to hold a big advantage over the Leafs with their third- and fourth-line depth.

His skating speed and gritty willingness to get his nose dirty have always handed Paille plenty of offensive opportunities, and now he’s burying those chances with much more frequency.

“I’m a lot more confident with the puck, and knowing what I need to do on breakaways,” said Paille. “I like when there’s pressure on me, and I’m not even thinking about it. I’m just reacting instead of thinking about.

“With me it’s staying with the basics, and not trying to do too much. I know in the past I was trying to shoot as hard as I could to get it through. Now I feel like I’m placing the puck more and taking advantage of my opportunities.”

That fourth-line advantage has been readily apparent in both wins in Game 1 and Game 3 for the Bruins, and truly came through with Paille’s shorthanded strike at the end of the second period. The speedy winger has clearly been an ace penalty killer all season for the NHL’s best PK unit, and that’s no surprise given the vital special teams role he’s filled in Boston over the last few years.

But Paille along with Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton are giving Boston the kind of game-changing fourth-line play they received two years ago en route to their Stanley Cup title. With that comes a different kind of confidence that Claude Julien has rewarded with greater playing time and a clearly defined role.

“The biggest thing with guys being able to score goals is all about confidence. They don’t lose their skill level overnight, and they don’t gain it overnight,” said Julien. “With Paille, he’s played well. I know that last year he was even made a healthy scratch because he wasn’t confident in his game. He understood what he had to do, he reacted and then he got back into the lineup.

“This season he’s been having a really good year. When we had injuries we had to move him up the lineup a little bit, but it’s about confidence. Sometimes it has to come from within and sometimes it has come from the coaching staff a little bit, and right now he’s got both.”

That newfound confidence should continue to grow as long as Paille keeps capitalizing on the chances that his hustle and blazing speed are rewarding him with in all situations on the ice.