Bruins

No bad blood between Paille and the Isles

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No bad blood between Paille and the Isles

UNIONDALE, N.Y. Daniel Paille didnt place a lot of significance in it.
But it was hard to miss the team hes playing in his second game back from a busted nose that required surgery.

The fourth-line grinder returned against the Columbus Blue Jackets Thursday night in a nondescript effort, and now hell be suiting up against the very same New York Islanders team that marked his bloody exit from the TD Garden frozen sheet.

If anybody has forgotten it was a Steve Staios slap shot that zoomed off the New York defensemans stick and caught Paille hard in the protective visor and nose before transforming his face into a bloody mess.

The scene looked pretty gruesome at the time, and its pretty hard to believe that Paille only missed three games. Paille looked every bit the hockey player with bruises, bloodshot eyes and stitches on his face Thursday night while skating with a cage for the first time in his career.

The energy winger admitted it took him a couple of periods to get comfortable with the new equipment and sight lines provided by the bars in the white cage, but he felt like his energetic, gritty self by the final 20 minutes. Breathing through his nose wasnt an issue at all, and that was the single biggest concern.

Paille totaled 11:53 of ice time in the shootout victory and didnt factor into the scoresheet. But in terms of getting Paille back into the flow of hockey after a week on the sidelines, it was the perfect opportunity to mix back in with Shawn Thornton and Gregory Campbell.

Theres a big difference for me. It was a little awkward at first, but by the second half of the game I felt like myself, said Paille. The breathing was fine and the comfort got better. I got used to the cage and the white on the inside after the first couple of shifts.

The Isles hold no particular significance for Paille, either when it comes to the incident.
Staios sought out Paille following the game at the Garden to check on the fallen winger, and expressed sincere regret about the shot that busted up his face. That quick conversation closed the book on the Isles involvement, and at the end of the day Paille feels extremely fortunate things didnt come out worse.

There are always cautionary tales in hockey, and one of them happened tragically in Edmonton last week.

Paille was thanking his lucky stars after reading an article printed out by his wife about the horrific story of a teen-aged hockey player that died after taking a puck to the face around the same time of Pailles injury. Edmonton 16-year-old Kyle Fundytus died from the injuries sustained after blocking a shot with his neck, and it forced Paille to think about how much worse things really could have been.

Thats such a tragedy and your heart goes out to his family, said Paille. At the same it makes you realize how dangerous that situation is, and how lucky you are to come out of it with just some facial injuries. It was uncomfortable and wasnt fun, but it also was just a temporary injury.

The Paille family also sounded like the typical hockey couple once they both realized his injuries amounted to an extra bloody fractured nose with a little facial surgery thrown in for good measure.

I still havent seen a great replay that shows the impact with my face. It happened so fast that you cant even see what happened, said Paille. My wife was pretty scared after seeing the aftermath on the ice.

How long did that fear last for?

Until she found out it amounted to a broken nose. Then she was like oh, thats no so bad.
Thats easy for her to say, said a smiling Paille.

So when Staios winds up for a slap shot during a big moment in Saturday nights game, Paille said he wont be shying away from blocking the shot as hed done 1,000 times before without ever breaking his nose. Thats his lot in life of a fourth line, energy guy, and its something Paille has made peace with even when the inevitable injuries of hockey arrive at his front door.

Its something I deal with every day. When that happened a couple of weeks ago it was the first time its happened in my career, so hopefully its the last time. You never know, said Paille. Its water under the bridge. I know it wasnt intentional. It was a fluke play and its totally in the past now.

With the visual evidence of the injuries fading into the rear view, its again thankfully about hockey and performance for Paille with the protective cage as the one reminder of what can happen when things go wrong on the ice.

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

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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.
 
PLUS
-- 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.
 
MINUS
-- 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

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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.