Solid season earns Paille a promotion

Solid season earns Paille a promotion
March 27, 2013, 12:45 am
Share This Post

It was no surprise Daniel Paille was the bottom six forward that got the call for a marquee spot when Claude Julien shuffled the lines earlier this week.

The fourth-line winger and penalty killer extraordinaire was promoted to a spot with Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin, and finished with a team-high five shots on net for the Bruins in their 3-2 shootout win over the Leafs on Monday night.

Paille didn’t add to his season totals of six goals and 11 points in 29 games among those five chances, but it once again highlighted the quality campaign that the gritty, speedy left wing has enjoyed thus far this season.

It also made him probably the most noticeable beneficiary of the temporary line changes instituted by the coaching staff after a heavy-legged road trip.

“I felt really good throughout the game,” said Paille, who topped 18 minutes of ice time while having his good skating legs. “I created the energy that I wanted to do for the team. I just couldn’t put it in. That’s going to happen sometimes, but I was definitely happy with [the team’s] effort.”

Julien and the coaching staff can obviously appreciate the versatility and hustle Paille always brings to the table as a key performer on the energy line, but he’s been so much more than that this season while bringing just a smidge more offense.

“He was very good…he was very good. I think he had five shots on net. He didn’t score, but certainly was a good player for us,” said Julien of Paille’s effort against Toronto. “Absolutely, I didn’t mind his game, he came up big for us. It’s nice to see those kinds of players step up and play those kind of games, because we have some players right now that are fighting to find there games.”

He’s got more goals this season than more accomplished offensive performers, such as Milan Lucic or Rich Peverley, and he’s tied with Peverley for point output this season. More amazingly, he’s done it while only squeezing off 41 shots on the season and averaging just 12:06 of ice time as a regular on the fourth line.

He also picked up a clutch goal on the just-concluded trip. Paille factored in with the game-winning goal against the Ottawa Senators for Boston's lone victory Bostonon the four-game road swing. It’s been part of his best season with the Bruins since his first full year, when he posted 10 goals and 19 points in 74 games with the Black and Gold. It's something that hasn’t gone unnoticed in Boston’s dressing room. It's also made him a front-runner for the Bruins 7th Player Award, annually handed out to Bruin that exceeds expectations for the season. Paille's consistency in his game and steady production have been a boon for the Bruins.

“Nobody’s really ever doubted how good of a player he is in here. I think his shot is one of the best on the team; he can skate maybe faster than anyone in the league when he’s going,” said Shawn Thornton, who has seen it up close as one of his regular linemates over the past three years. “I try not to put too much stock into us getting a ton of points and that’s a not barometer of how well we are playing.

“I think it’s more of the physicality and the o-zone time than anything else.”

Thornton is right that it’s not all about the numbers with Paille, but including the stats makes a compelling argument. He’s been the most offensively prolific member of Boston’s fourth line and a key contributor to a penalty kill that wire-to-wire has been the league’s best this season.