Bruins feel Paille's suspension too harsh


Bruins feel Paille's suspension too harsh

By Danny Picard

WILMINGTON -- Daniel Paille thought it was a clean hit. Coach Claude Julienthinks Raymond Sawada should have had his head up coming over the blueline. And general manager Peter Chiarelli believes Paille's four-game suspension, handed down by theNHL for Thursday's hit on Sawada, was alittle too harsh.

"I thought it was a little stiff," Chiarelli said after Friday's practice at Ristuccia Arena. "Wefelt that Paille tried to square up, and circle around Sawada. Infact, if you look at the footage, Sawada was at one point, two orthree feet ahead of Paille and circled back . . .

"I thought it was alittle stiff. I thought maybe one or two games.

"There shouldhave been punishment, don't get me wrong," added Chiarelli, pointingout that the hit did take place in a blind spot on the ice, around thesame area that Marc Savard was hit last winter in Pittsburgh. "There shouldhave been punishment on this. I thought it should have been less thanfour games."

As Sawada took the puck over the blue line from theleft wing, he cut into the middle of the ice and Paille came streakingfrom the right side, Paille came up high on the Stars' forward, causingthe officials to eject him from the game.

Chiarelli sat in Friday morning's league hearing with Paille, and each side gave their view of the hit.

Having Savard out of the lineup once again, mainly because of a brutalhit he took to the head from Matt Cooke last winter, Chiarelli andJulien both made it known on Friday that they fully support theleague's stance on cutting down head shots.

"They're sendingstrong messages, and I'm not opposed to that," said Chiarelli. "Thisthing is a hot issue, and rightfully so. Part of me, deep down, thoughtthat something like this might come down, and it did."

Bothbelieve that there's no place in the game for "blind-sided hits," butboth also believe that this one could have possibly been prevented, onSawada's end.

"There's a lot of responsibility that's taken offthe player that's getting hit now," Julien said after Friday'spractice, reiterating his stance on Thursday night that Sawada had hishead down. "So until the players themselves, in their minds, startthinking about stop putting themselves in vulnerable positions, whetherit's playing with your head down, whether it's being by the boards andseeing that you're going to get hit and turning your back, or whateverthe case may be, I think if the players start taking thatresponsibility, I think it's going to minimize a lot of these things.

"Tome, I think that, until the players really take that upon themselves,you're still going to get those things happening. We can minimize that,if they do their part. That's my opinion.

"Once you're in thepros, you've been told for many, many years, not to play with your headdown," said Julien. "So if he hasn't learned by now, he shouldn't be inthe pros. Again, I'm stating my opinion."

Paille knows howsensitive the league's head-shot rule is, and he said he feels likehe's being made an example of, because he thought his hit was clean.

"Obviouslyit was a fast-paced play, and I just recognized that Sawada was goingon a breakaway, and I just went over there to backcheck and get thepuck, but he cut back through the middle," said Paille, who said he wasexpecting a two-game suspension, not four games. "If you look at theplay, I'm ahead of him. When I hit him, I felt that I hit his shoulderat that moment. And looking at the replay, I felt that he kind ofturned towards me, so I finished my check. I felt that I hit him in theshoulder.

Sawada suffered a broken nose and a sore shoulder on the hit, and Paille has yet to get in touch with him.

Ifhe does get in touch with Sawada, Paille's message will be clear: therewas no intent to injure, because he still feels it was a clean hit.

"Iknow that a lot of the guys on the team here know me and understand me,and agree with me," said Paille, even though Bruins defenseman AndrewFerence was quick to call it a "bad hit" after Thursday's game. "Justlooking at the replay over and over, I feel that I see the shoulderhitting the shoulder."

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

Capitals lose 3-goal lead, recover to beat Bruins in OT

Capitals lose 3-goal lead, recover to beat Bruins in OT

WASHINGTON -- The Capitals didn't exactly end their overtime victory with a raucous celebration.

No, instead Washington held a players-only meeting, still salty over blowing a three-goal lead.

Nicklas Backstrom scored 1:36 into overtime, helping the Capitals beat the Boston Bruins 4-3 to avert a disastrous defeat Wednesday night.

Justin Williams scored twice and Daniel Winnik also had a goal to put Washington ahead 3-0 about six minutes into the second period.

After Winnik's tally, Washington went over 26 minutes without a shot on goal. Boston dominated the final five minutes of the second period, when Dominic Moore and David Pastrnak beat goaltender Braden Holtby. Colin Miller's power-play score 8:19 into third tied it at 3-3.

Backstrom saved the day, but not the Capitals from feeling uneasy.

"In the second and third period they outplayed," Backstrom said. "We were lucky that we came up with two points. We're not satisfied at all. We're happy with the two points, but not the way we played."

The locker room remained closed for approximately 15 minutes after the win, Washington's second in a row after losing three straight.

"We had a little talking here," said T.J. Oshie, who returned to the lineup for the first time since injuring his shoulder on Nov. 18. "There are some things we've got to clean up. I think it's more of a mentality more than it is the systems or anything like that. ... Once we get a step up on someone, we have to get that mentality that we're going to finish them off."

Evgeny Kuznetsov had two assists for the Capitals and Alex Ovechkin got his first point since Nov. 26.

Boston arrived in Washington 4-0-1 over its last five games with three wins in a row, including a 4-3 overtime triumph against Florida on Monday night. The Bruins outshot Washington 34-20.

"Hell of an effort. We got a big point for us. To comeback from 3-0 against Washington, it's not that easy," Pastrnak said. "Too bad we couldn't get the two points, but in this case the one point is huge for us."

Backstrom patiently waited on the right side before firing the winner past goaltender Tuukka Rask, who entered second in the league with a 1.68 goals-against average. Rask allowed three goals in his previous outing, too.

Williams had two goals over the first 24 games this season, but he matched that total less than eight minutes in against the Bruins. He redirected Kuznetsov's lofted centering pass past Rask for a 1-0 lead just 23 seconds into the first period.

"To be honest it's nice to see the puck go in the net," Williams said. "I've been pressing and working hard. Hopefully this can springboard me to some more production."

Matt Niskanen left with an upper-body injury and did not return. With the Caps down a defenseman, Boston outshot Washington 11-2 in the second period.

"In the second period, we just sort of sat back," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "It's hard to protect leads in the league."

The Capitals' second goal also occurred in front of the net. Williams emerged from a scramble with a shot that slithered under Rask.

NOTES: With his 673rd career win, Trotz passed Mike Keenan (672) for eighth place on the NHL's career wins list. ... Williams' first goal was the fastest for Washington since 2012. ... Boston assigned F Noel Acciari to the Providence Bruins two days after the 24-year forward returned to practice. Acciari injured his right leg on Nov. 7. ... Holtby improved to 10-2 career against the Bruins. His first career win came in relief against Boston in November 2010. ... The three-game season series resumes Feb. 1 in Washington.


Bruins: Host Colorado on Thursday night.

Capitals: Play at Buffalo on Friday night.