BOSTON – There’s little question that a little bit of rest did Daniel Paille a whole lot of good.
The Bruins energy line winger had gone scoreless in the previous eight games along with a minus-1 rating when he returned to Boston from a road trip with post-concussion symptoms. In four of those eight games he hadn’t had a shot on net, and didn’t seem to be playing with the same kind of speed, tenacity and burst that always typifies his game with the Black and Gold.
So the 29-year-old Paille sat out seven games while his head and neck cleared of the problematic symptoms, and he’s been a different player ever since. In the five games since coming back from the injury Paille has three goals and four points, and is a plus-4 while pushing the fourth line back into relevancy for the first time since Shawn Thornton was slapped with the 15-game suspension.
“You know that’s what rest does to you. Unfortunately you can’t do that with every player, but whenever a player gets injured and gets some rest and comes back, it goes to show you how important that part of the game is,” said Claude Julien. “Unfortunately we don’t all get that luxury. Some guys will obviously [rest] in February [during the Olympics], but nonetheless it makes a guy come back more energized. Obviously he’s been a good player for us since he’s come back.”
That continued on Saturday afternoon as he Paille finished with a goal and an assist in Boston’s 4-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets for his first multi-point game of the season.
“I feel normal again, which is huge. It’s been a while since I’ve felt this way so I think – I’m still slightly sore, but I don’t sense any delay or anything like that,” said Paille. “So it’s a good thing, I guess. For me right now the main focus is to skate and compete like I have been. I think coming back has been helpful.
“We have a certain identity [as a line], and we’ve played together for so long. When one’s gone [like Thornton] we try to find another identity. I think we were thinking too much, and not moving or skating at all. The last few games we were competing a lot better with the opportunities that we have.”
And it showed in the decisive second period.
On the game’s first goal that tied things up in the second period both Paille and Gregory Campbell won battles along the boards to keep the puck in the offensive zone, and eventually rimmed it up to Torey Krug. Krug moved in through the left circle, crew defenders toward him and then found Paille wide open on the backdoor for the score.
The Campbell assist wiped out an 11-game scoreless streak for the fourth line center, and got him back on the board as well.
Paille returned the favor later in the second period by winning another one-on-one battle before feeding the puck to Krug at the point, and picking up a helper on the young defenseman’s goal.
That gave Boston’s fourth line a pair of goals they were responsible for in Saturday’s win thanks to Paille. Everybody knows how much better the B’s are as a team when the energy line starts kicking in with the production.