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.