Paille, Stuart making bids for ice time

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Paille, Stuart making bids for ice time

By DannyPicard
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- Claude Julien's postgame message was simple, following Tuesday night's 4-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"If you have any sense of pride, you're embarrassed about tonight, not because the other team played well, but because we did not play to the level that we should be playing . . . it's unacceptable," he said.

The Bruins now go on a six-game road trip, and will be joined by forward Chris Kelly, who was acquired by the B's following Tuesday's loss, in exchange for a 2011 second-round pick.

The sense of pride that Julien preached about will certainly be tested. And on Tuesday against the Maple Leafs, at least two players who aren't guaranteed every-day roster spots put their names on the score sheet.

Daniel Paille and Mark Stuart connected (kind of) eight minutes into the game to give the Bruins a 1-0 first-period lead.

Paille's attempted pass out front to Gregory Campbell hit the skate of Toronto defenseman Mike Komisarek and re-directed into the Maple Leafs' net.

It came as the result of a good dump, and a smart, aggressive decision by Bruins defenseman Mark Stuart to join the attack and follow Paille deep into the offensive zone. Paille beat all Maple Leafs players to the puck, and dropped it behind the net to Stuart.

Stuart's attempted pass out front to Campbell was blocked, and found its way over to Paille on the other side of the net. And the rest resulted in a 1-0 Boston lead.

"I definitely wanted to make an impact as soon as possible, whether it was a check, or just keep moving my feet and getting to the puck first," said Paille.

"I was looking there to pass it to Campbell there," he said. "I was fortunate. I got a lucky bounce off Komisarek, his foot, so I'll take it there. But I'd rather have that win. It was a lucky bounce for us there."

Lucky bounce or not, it was the result of hard work on a puck down deep in the zone. And it was hard work done by two players whose uncertainty in the everyday lineup grows greater by the day, and by the trade.

Paille made his return, on Tuesday, from a four-game suspension for an illegal hit he put on Dallas' Raymond Sawada on Feb. 3. Stuart had been a healthy scratch for eight consecutive games, leading up to his return to the lineup on Sunday in Detroit.

With the arrival of another forward in Kelly, and Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli saying on Tuesday night after the Kelly trade that he still had nine defenseman on his "board," the competition for playing time is in full swing.

With the possibility of another forward being moved in a trade for that extra defenseman, it's quite possible that Paille's role on the team may not change, being a fourth-line player who also kills penalties.

But even if there's not a trade for a defenseman, the Bruins currently sport seven players on the blue line, and on Tuesday night, Stuart made his case, finishing the game as one of only two Bruins players with a plus-rating (1), and getting on the score sheet with an assist.

That assist came on Paille's goal, and came as a result of what Julien called a good pinch.

"I have no problem with our D's pinching and being involved in the offense, as long as it's not a risky situation," said the Bruins coach after Tuesday's loss. "Stuart's attack was not a bad decision. We want our D's to support the attack. We want our D's to pinch at the right time. We want our D's to pinch, and we want our forwards to cover up for them. So there's no issues there. As long as it's not a bad pinch, we saw some of those against Detroit, that ended up costing us."

Just ask Johnny Boychuk, who found himself as a healthy scratch on Tuesday night, making way for Steve Kampfer's return to the lineup, and Stuart's second consecutive game. Boychuk tried to pinch along the right boards at Detroit's blue line on Sunday, and it ended up costing the B's, as the puck got past Boychuk, and the Red Wings scored on the ensuing rush, and taking a 4-2 lead in the process.

There's a difference between being smart and aggressive. Stuart was aggressively smart with his support of the rush on Tuesday night, and his play against the Maple Leafs showed enough pride to where an unhappy coach had nothing but good things to say about him.

"Well I think right now, he's one of those guys that's excited to be back in the lineup," said Julien after the loss. "And it shows. Right now, you'd like to see other guys play with that kind of an edge."

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on hisstreaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Hindsight is always 20/20, of course, but it appears the Bruins made a mistake buying out veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg from the final couple of years of his contract. 

Seidenberg just finished up a wildly successful stint with host Team Germany at the IIHF World Championships, where he was named Directorate Best Defenseman (the tournament’s best defenseman) after leading all D-men with a goal and eight points. This came after Seidenberg, at age 35, posted 5 goals and 22 points in 73 games for the Islanders, with whom he signed after being cut loose by the B's, while averaging a shade under 20 minutes per game.  Seidenberg also had an excellent World Cup of Hockey tournament for Team Europe last summer (where he was teamed once again with Zdeno Chara), thus managing to play at a high level from September all the way through May.

A faction of Bruins fans thought he was on the serious decline after the 2015-16 season and, clearly, the Bruins agreed, opting to buy him out with two more years still left on a sizable contract extension. (They owe him $2.16 million next season and then will be charged $1.16 million on their salary cap over the next two seasons.) But the B's could have used a durable, defensive warrior like Seidenberg in the playoffs, when they lost three of their top four defensemen against the Ottawa Senators. A rejuvenated Seidenberg, able to play both the left and right side, would have been a better option than Colin Miller.

The Bruins made a conscious decision to hand things over to younger defensemen like Miller, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo and Joe Morrow in cutting ties with Seidenberg. But they also perhaps miscalculated how much Seidenberg still had left in the tank after his best season in at least three years. 

“Well, at the time we felt like [Seidenberg's] game had really dropped off to where we thought he couldn’t contribute, and we wanted to see if some younger players could come in and help us out,” Bruins president Cam Neely said at the end-of-the-season press conference earlier this month. “I’ve got to say he played well this year for Long Island. But at the time we thought it was the right move. You can’t envision us having three of our top four D’s get hurt [in the playoffs]. We went through a lot of D’s in the postseason. You can’t predict that.”

Neely is referring to the decision made after Seidenberg’s second straight minus season in Boston, when back injuries and a major knee injury had seemed to slow him down a bit. It seemed the only way to properly evaluate some of their other, younger defenseman was to cut Seidenberg loose, but one has to wonder if the Bruins would have possibly done it had they known he was still capable of playing like he did this season for the Islanders. 

Either way, the buyout of Seidenberg is an extremely legitimate second guess of Bruins management in a year where they did a lot of things right. 
 

Monday, May 22: Senators all out of playoff magic?

Monday, May 22: Senators all out of playoff magic?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while feeling like we’ll be getting a Pittsburgh/Nashville Stanley Cup Final, which I suppose would be the best possible outcome at this point.

*You hear the name and it just gets you angry all over again if you grew up watching the Bruins. Ulf Samuelsson is in the running for an assistant coaching job with the Chicago Blackhawks, according to a report.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Chris Johnston says it appears that the time is running out on a Cinderella season for the Ottawa Senators.

*A taste of winning at the world championships with Team Sweden could fuel Alex Edler’s desire for a change from the rebuilding Vancouver Canucks.

*Interesting piece on a former can’t miss goaltending prospect with the Nashville Predators that ended up totally missing, and what he’s been up to in life since then.

*Guy Boucher explains to Pro Hockey Talk why he kept changing goaltenders in the Game 5 blowout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

*Don Cherry explains that he hates afternoon hockey during his Coach’s Corner from Hockey Night in Canada in the Game 5 blowout between the Penguins and Predators.

*A good piece from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Alex Prewitt on the Nashville Predators, and the evolution of the franchise into a team on the verge of a Stanley Cup Final appearance.

*For something completely different: What a win by the Boston Celtics in Game 3 in Cleveland, and quite an interesting, fired up interview with Al Horford afterward.