Bruins notes: Paille peaking at right moment

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Bruins notes: Paille peaking at right moment

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

WILMINGTON When youre on a playoff-level team, youd much rather be playing your best hockey at the end of the year than the beginning.

Thats exactly where Daniel Paille finds himself this season.

He had a sluggish start out of the gate and in Europe, was suspended for four games for his blindside hit on Raymond Sawada in the brawl game against the Dallas Stars, and has sat out more games (41) than hes played this season (38).

Paille still has the skating speed, the penalty-killing instincts and the necessary grit to thrive in a fourth line role as hes begun to over the last month and the 26-year-old is playing some of his best hockey of the season with the playoffs less than two weeks away.

The left wing has three points (2 goals and an assist) along with a plus-2 in his last five games while skating with some combination of Gregory Campbell, Shawn Thornton and Michael Ryder. Hes also been part of a penalty kill crew thats stopped the opposition in 18 of their last 20 chances while stabilizing a special teams unit that had really scuffled at the end of March.

I feel great. I think I feel faster and just more patient on a lot of plays, said Paille. I feel really happy with my play right now.

I focus on the penalty kill more than anything else. Coach Claude Julien trusts me out there, so I do whatever I can to not get scored against. Hopefully that continues as we keep moving on here.

Paille knows that the playoffs are coming and that he wants to be a part of it as he was last season, and that hustling, killing penalties and making plays are the magic formula to make certain hes in the lineup.

I try not get ahead of myself so the focus is on playing as well as possible in the games we have left in the year, said Paille. For me its plain and simple how I need to play. I enjoy that energy role and Im having a lot of fun with it right now.

Last year was a little bit easier because I was playing in every game, but its something Ive been battling through. With the way Ive been playing lately, hopefully I can keep that going through into the playoffs and to next year as well.

The nine points in 38 games for the season certainly indicate its less than Paille might have envisioned during the season. There were probably even some that thought hed be a problem once he and Andrew Ference disagreed over the defensemans comments following his hit on Sawada, but Paille never went off the Bs reservation and kept the team above petty individual concerns.

That won him some major points with his coach, and is certainly a big fat mark in the plus column when it comes to filling out Bostons postseason lineup.

First off, a player like Paille is more important than people think. He didnt have a great start to the season, and sometimes we put him in the lineup and he wasnt quite giving us the play we thought we could get from him, said Julien. Part of it is because he wasnt playing much, so hes not all to blame on that. At the same time you expect players to push themselves and make sure they make a good impression.

But through all of this up and down -- whether it was his fault or not his fault -- hes always been positive, hes been good with his teammates. Hes never disrupted the room, and hes been nothing but a great support guy. Weve been talking to him and he wants to play. He wants to play bad. But he also puts the team ahead of all that stuff, and whatever is frustrated inside of him -- he doesnt let it show.

There are four games left, and Julien is paying close attention to Paille, Ryder, Seguin, Thornton and other forwards fighting to keep away from healthy scratch status once Bostons playoff run begins at TD Garden on April 14.

Ive been here all year itching to play, and were getting to that time now with the playoffs and were going to playing a regular lineup in the playoffs, said Paille. Im giving everything I got on every shift and trying to maintain that. I hope the coaching staff recognizes that and keeps me in there.

Tyler Seguin has been growing out what hes calling a beard over the last week in anticipation of the playoffs, and with the knowledge that hell be shaving his head for the Cuts for a Cause charity event next week at Ned Devines in Boston.

If I have a clean shaved face and a shaved head then Im going to look like a 12-year-old out there, said the 19-year-old Seguin, who wouldnt shoot down the possibility of using some Just For Men hair coloring on the beard if its needed.

Brad Marchand was asked what hed be doing if he wasnt a hockey player given the training camp disappointments hed experienced over the last couple of years heading into this season, and had some fun with the answer before shining a light on what his life is like back in Nova Scotia.

Id probably be living on the streets somewhere, said a chuckling Marchand. I dont know. I always wanted to be a cop before I thought this was a possibility here, and my dad has a company back home that maybe Id be working for. So maybe I would have jumped on that.

The Bruins had a very easygoing Sunday practice with a scrimmage and shootout rather than a hard skate, but the players already had their minds focused on the New York Rangers Monday night, given that the Rangers could be a first-round playoff opponent.

There is always the possibility that we could meet this team in the playoffs, and that makes it an important one, said Julien. It was a good game with them last team and we lost 1-0 when their goaltender stood tall in the third period, so maybe this is our opportunity to get a better start and get a different result.

Shawn Thornton is still considered day-to-day as he battles some swelling in his sinuses stemming from the gash on his forehead, but he will make the trip to New York City with the rest of his teammates for Monday nights game.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs\

Beleskey, Liles sitting tonight vs. Coyotes

Beleskey, Liles sitting tonight vs. Coyotes

BRIGHTON, Mass. – With the NHL trade deadline a mere one day away, the Bruins will keep two veterans, who could be shipped elsewhere, out of their lineup tonight against the Arizona Coyotes at TD Garden.

Matt Beleskey and John-Michael Liles will both be scratches as the B's try to make it seven wins in eight tries under interim coach Bruce Cassidy. Tuukka Rask will get the call between the pipes against the Western Conference foe. The Liles scratch means that Colin Miller draws back in after being the healthy scratch in the Sunday matinee victory in Dallas.

The lines and pairings will look the same as they’ve been most of the time over the past seven mostly successful games. The Bruins will be focused on setting the tone rather than worrying about what the new-look Coyotes are going to do.

“The road trip is behind us and Arizona is in front of us, and that’s about as simple as we can make it,” said Cassidy. “They’re one of the teams that is on our schedule. I’m not being disrespectful at all in any way, shape or form, but our focus is on the Boston Bruins and getting our game in shape to play. Then we’ll make the minor adjustments we have to make.”

Here are the projected Bruins line combos and D-pairings against the Coyotes based on the morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena:

 
Marchand-Bergeron-Backes

Cehlarik-Krejci-Pastrnak

Vatrano-Spooner-Hayes

Schaller-Moore-Nash

 
Chara-Carlo

Krug-McQuaid

K. Miller-C. Miller

 
Rask 

Spooner, coming to life with Bruins, feels Julien 'just didn't really trust me'

Spooner, coming to life with Bruins, feels Julien 'just didn't really trust me'

BRIGHTON -- The Bruins' third line has been reborn under interim coach Bruce Cassidy, and the players are now openly admitting they desperately needed a change.

Claude Julien never trusted Frank Vatrano, Ryan Spooner and Jimmy Hayes enough defensively to play them together, but this line has blossomed under Cassidy: Six goals, 15 points and a plus-11 in seven games. They’ve survived in the defensive zone by rarely playing there. Instead, they push the pace, make plays to keep the puck out of the D-zone and, most importantly, keep producing the secondary offense that wasn’t there in the first 55 games of the season. 

No one has been freed from the shackles more than Spooner, who is back playing his natural center position after being forced to play left wing under Julien. The 25-year-old said Tuesday that getting a clean slate with a new coach has been extremely beneficial to him, and that perhaps he didn't always love playing for the guy now minding the bench in Montreal. 

“I felt like the last coach ... he just didn’t really trust me,” said Spooner, who has two goals and six points along with a plus-1 rating in seven games post-Julien. “It might've been kind of on me not really playing to the potential that I have, but at the same time . . . I just don’t think that he really liked me as a player. It’s kind of in the past now. It’s just a part of the game. It’s up to me to just go out there and just play, and not have that stuff in the back of my mind. 

“I just kind of have to go out there and believe in myself and I think at times I wasn’t really going out there and doing that. Maybe that’s something to learn. This sport has ups and downs, and I’ve had my downs. You learn that you can just sort of push through it. If you do that then things can be good.”

Spooner has 10 goals and 33 points along with a minus-3 this season, and could potentially surpass last year's numbers (13-36-49) in his second full season. 

Most felt that the speedy, skilled Spooner would be one of the big beneficiaries of the move from Julien to Cassidy, and now he’s showing that with a new lease on life in Boston.