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

Bruins get a needed boost from young players in win over Sharks


Bruins get a needed boost from young players in win over Sharks

Here’s what we learned from the Bruins' 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks at the SAP Center on Saturday night, which gave Boston four of a possible six points in its California road swing.
1) The kids stepped up at a great time for the Bruins. Boston needed some young players to step up and fill in for the injured veterans up front, and they got it on Saturday night. Jake DeBrusk was the main playmaker on both goals in the first period, and the Bruins got goals from rookies DeBrusk, Peter Cehlarik and Danton Heinen. It was Cehlarik’s first NHL goal and the 10th point of the season for Heinen, who continues to show signs that he is going to be a productive, reliable winger  even though he didn’t start the season at the NHL level. DeBrusk finished with a goal and an assist and twice used his speed and aggressiveness taking the puck to the net to create scoring chances: On the first goal it was Cehlarik who finished the loose puck after DeBrusk’s net drive created a rebound, and on the second it was DeBrusk simply beating reigning Norris Trophy winner Brent Burns to a race for the puck and then snapping it up and over San Jose backup goalie Aaron Dell. Cehlarik became the sixth Bruins rookie to score the first goal of his NHL career with Boston this season, and it all shows tangible results of the youth movement they were fully embracing this season. There will be peaks and valleys with so many young players in the lineup, but Saturday night turned out to be one of those high-water marks.

2)  At their healthiest, the Bruins can be a fast-skating, skilled team that will be equal parts offense and defense in a hard-working style that features pace and creativity in the offensive zone. The Bruins aren't healthy right now, obviously, and aren’t going to find success that way as attested by the fact that they hadn’t won two games in a row this season until Saturday night in San Jose. With a number of players already out of the lineup, Torey Krug now injured as well and Tuukka Rask taking an extended rest in favor of a red-hot Anton Khudobin, the Bruins are actually playing a very different brand of hockey right now. With Rask not playing -- and not allowing the types of bad or soft goals he's given up so far this year -- they can play a little more conservatively and try to make a two- or three-goal output in a game actually stick as the game-winning margin. Just check the box score,  as the Bruins blocked a whopping 30 shots and conversely the Sharks blocked just 12. Zdeno Chara, Kevan Miller and Robbie O’Gara all had blocked shots in the final few minutes, and Brandon Carlo stepped in front of a wide-open chance for Burns in the third period off a clean offensive zone faceoff win for the Sharks. Those are all gritty, tough plays in the D-zone that you don’t always see, and it perhaps comes a little more naturally when the Bruins are making the clear choice to feature their defense and goaltending right now. It may not be sustainable once Anton Khudobin inevitably cools off a little bit, but for now it’s pretty darn effective.

3)  After watching him stop 36 of 37 shots for the win on Saturday night, the Bruins need to see this thing through with Khudobin until he loses a game. Khudobin is 5-0-2 with this season, with a .949 save percentage in three appearances in November. He's playing the best he's played in the last couple of years. Right now Khudobin is actually leading the NHL with a .935 save percentage for the season, and that really contrasts to Rask's .897 save percentage. Certainly part of it is about the Bruins selling out defensively in front of him and blocking 30 shots in the win while knowing they didn’t have to play again until Wednesday night. But it’s also about the Bruins backup goaltender playing himself into a position where the B’s should ride him until he cools down a little bit, and give Rask some more time to figure out what is slowing him down between the pipes right now.
-- DeBrusk made a couple of big plays in the first period that led to goals for the Bruins, and he finished with a goal, two points, a plus-2 and a team-high four shots on net in 15:49 of ice time. He has a goal and three points in three games since being a healthy scratch last weekend against Toronto.
--Khudobin made 16 saves in the first period when the Bruins were outshot 17-5 and it certainly seemed like they were going to get run out of the building. Instead Khudobin stood tall.
-- Heinen finished with two goals and three points on the three-game trip and iced the game for the Bruins with a backdoor strike in the third period after Kevan Miller had dashed up the right side of the ice to create the chance. Heinen is pushing up near the Bruins team leaders in some offensive categories and looks like he belongs in the NHL this season.
-- Burns was burnt on each of the Bruins' two first-period goals, he actually missed the net with 12 of his 16 shot attempts, and he had seven giveaways in a pretty sloppy game managing the puck. Burns hasn’t had a great season to date, and Saturday night was a good example of things not going well for him this year.
-- Paul Postma finished with just eight minutes of ice time in the win, and was part of the poor defensive coverage on the Sharks goal by Joonas Donskoi in the first period that ended up getting overturned on video review. Postma didn’t show much else after that only playing a handful of minutes over the remainder of the game, and based on his early performance looks like he’s only going to be a seventh defensemen in Boston.
-- Here’s a hearty boo to the 10:30 pm West Coast starts on Saturday night that only the diehards, or those getting paid, are going to closely watch on the weekend leading up to Thanksgiving. Congrats to you if you were one of the lucky ones that decided to stay up and watch a game that didn’t end until after 1 a.m. in the East.  

Morning Skate: Payroll mess at the heart of Bruins' problems


Morning Skate: Payroll mess at the heart of Bruins' problems

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while battening down the hatches for Thanksgiving week.
-- When longtime Bruins follower Clark Booth opines about the Black and Gold, I tend to listen. And he's not happy with the Bruins' salary cap situation at this point in time. It should be noted that this was written before they won the last two games. But some of those truths still remain self-evident when it comes to the B’s.

-- Kevin Bieksa will never stop talking about former teammate Rick Rypien, or about the factors that ultimately led to his tragic passing.
-- Alex Ovechkin is truly living up to the “Russian Machine Never Breaks” mantra these days, which led to the creation of an entire blog about the Capitals.
-- This Saturday Night Live skit with Chance the Rapper playing a clueless hockey reporter was funny, even to people that have been covering the league for 20 years and still struggle to pronounce a name like Brady Skjei.
-- The good, the bad and the ugly courtesy of FOH (Friend of Haggs) Mitch Melnick from last night’s Montreal blowout loss to the Maple Leafs that probably could have just been called the ugly, the ugly and the ugly.
-- It’s 20 games into the season, and the Buffalo Sabres media are wondering what’s wrong with their team, and star Jack Eichel.
-- For something completely different: It sounds like some of the NFL rank-and-file players want to know why Roger Goodell deserves $50 million and a lifetime private plane.