By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
WILMINGTON Daniel Paille has no qualms about the way last season ended for him. The winger was getting steady reps on the Bs fourth line with Shawn Thornton and Gregory Campbell, cemented his role in the lineup for the playoffs with some strong play down the stretch, and then ended up winning the Stanley Cup for his efforts.
Paille finished with 43 games played and 13 points (6 goals, 7 assists) as a bottom-six forward after getting in the lineup, but got out of the gate extremely slowly before solidifying his spot. He seems to have learned his lesson this season after that experience, though, and has flashed plenty of gritty capabilities with penalty-kill proficiency and the ability to break games open with his speed.
Unfortunately the hands dont normally catch up with the skating legs, and that happened Thursday night when Paille couldnt handle a long stretch pass from Chris Clark in the third period. Paille never got off a solid chance during the breakaway, but the mere ability to utilize his speed to throw opponents off was a skill to be utilized.
I think the one thing that Dan realizes is that he got off to a slow start last year and it hurt him, said coach Claude Julien. So he was determined to come back this year and really have a good start. Hes skating well, hes competing hard and hes trying to make plays -- and hes capable.
I think hes had a break-away almost every game hes played so far. Hes got that speed that allows you that, so hes definitely off to a better start and hes like everybody else.
"Our message is clear to him that if you want to be here, you make sure you keep your spot. For the guys that have it, youve got to keep it; for the guys that want one, theyve got to go out there and earn it.
There are plenty of young skaters, like Benoit Pouliot and Max Sauve, skating around in Bruins camp as potential replacements for Paille should he be lost to an injury or traded away for salary cap purposes over the first half of the season. But for now Paille is ready to skate on the penalty kill and prove his flexibility up and down the Senators lineup.
Theres a competition going on and he wants to make sure hes in that line-up on opening night, said Julien.
Paille knows theres a competition going on, and its more difficult to trade a winger thats contributing to special teams and providing occasional offense no matter what the price tag.
Then it would be back to the business as usual for Paille after this most unusual of months for almost all parties involved.