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\

Bruins rebound from 3-0 deficit but wind up losing to Caps in overtime

Bruins rebound from 3-0 deficit but wind up losing to Caps in overtime

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.

UP NEXT

Bruins: Host Colorado on Thursday night.

Capitals: Play at Buffalo on Friday night.