BOSTON -- Daniel Paille wasn’t wearing his customary Merlot practice sweater but he was back on the TD Garden ice Tuesday with his Bruins teammates, taking contact and doing all the things a player will do at practice when they’ve been cleared to play.
The one wrinkle: Paille was wearing a gold practice jersey with Patrice Bergeron and Reilly Smith, and skating in place of the absent Brad Marchand.
Paille missed all five games of the first-round series against the Detroit Red Wings after absorbing what is thought to be a concussion -- the team will only describe it as "an upper-body injury" -- following a big collision with Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe on April 12. He started taking contact in practice last week, and it appeared he was closing in on a return at the end of the Detroit series.
“I waited for the okay from our doctors," said coach Claude Julien. "That is basically what I waited for . . . I know that he is ready for the next round now.”
The speed fourth-liner confirmed as much, while also admitting the B’s medical staff treaded softly given the multiple number of head injuries he's suffered this season.
“It definitely feels good to get a good, full contact practice going,” said Paille. “Because this was my third [head] injury this year, there were a lot more precautions to go through this time around. I believe I could have played midway through the last series.
“I didn’t feel like I had too many symptoms/injuries, but I had to continue with that process. I heard Claude say that I felt ‘great’ after the first day, and I did. There was no question about that.”
Jordan Caron did a serviceable job in place of Paille with the B’s fourth line during the Red Wings series, and actually scored his first career playoff goal. But it’s pretty clear the Bruins could use Paille’s skating speed and special teams’ ability on the penalty kill against Montreal.