Daniel Paille might have been returned to the fourth line after getting a chance with third-liners Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson in the last few games, but it was no reflection on the way the speedy, aggressive winger is playing.
Paille has only one point in his last five games, but he continues to impact games with his penalty-killing and ability to draw penalty calls against the opposition. The left winger earned the Bruins a power play in the first period of their 4-0 win over the Oilers last weekend when he used his speed to split through the Edmonton defensemen pair of Martin Marincin and Jeff Petry, and forced Petry to hook him as he sped by.
It's part of the improved game Claude Julien has seen out of Paille since returning from a concussion in December, even if it’s been 11 games since the winger last put a biscuit in the basket.
Once Chris Kelly was healthy enough to return to centering the third line in the weekend tilt against the Oilers, that’s when Paille was welcomed back home on the Merlot Line with Shawn Thornton and Gregory Campbell.
“I thought he played well from the time he came back from that concussion," Julien said. "I forget the amount of time whether it was 10 days or two weeks that he took, but I thought he’s been a better player ever since. When we moved him up [to the third line] he played extremely well for us on that line, but he’s come back and continued to do the same thing on his normal line now.”
That’s been part of Paille’s bread-and-butter this season, as he’s got only six PIMs in 47 games, but has been one of the B’s leaders in drawing penalties with his speed and willingness to aggressively take the puck toward the net.
According to the behindthenet.ca web site, Paille, David Krejci and Kevan Miller lead the Bruins with one penalty drawn per 60 minutes of time on the ice. Clearly there are different reasons behind the number for each player: Paille does it with speed and grit; Krejci does it because the puck is on his stick so much; and Miller is a physical player that creates a lot of contact going in both directions.
“Most penalties get drawn just by outworking the next guy. For myself, as long as I keep my feet moving, if there’s a little bit of a hook or a hold there’s a slight chance it could be a penalty,” said Paille. “So sometimes it’s not going to be called, but it got called a few times [against the Oilers].
“From the beginning [and] through most of the game, we kept it simple with our style and kept going forward instead of trying to make too many plays.”
The simple style for Paille works best: straight ahead with speed and courage. That’s when good things like goals, scoring chances and drawn penalties happen for a player that’s always looking to be a factor.