Bruins

No hesitation in Paille's return from head injury

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No hesitation in Paille's return from head injury

Daniel Paille joked that he ran himself into the boards a couple of times to make sure he was ready to return from a mild concussion that might not have been a concussion at all. Any and all symptoms abated almost immediately following the Krys Barch hit against the Florida Panthers last week. The fourth line winger missed only one before jumping back in on Tuesday night.

Paille didnt factor into the scoring in Bostons 3-0 whitewashing of a sorry Los Angeles Kings bunch, but he brought exactly what Claude Julien was looking for before placing him back in the lineup: penalty-killing excellence and the kind of energy that quick feet and a willingness to do the dirty work provide.

For a guy thats had a slap shot crush his nose into a bloody mess, suffered a mild concussion when the Florida enforcer took a run at him and has been battling a head cold for the better part of two weeks, Paille hopes this is a permanent return to good health and more importantly good luck.

Hopefully thats over now, and we can focus on just playing consistently every night, said Paille, when asked about the neurological testing and normal concussion rigmarole that players must endure to get back on the ice. And hopefully no more injuries come up."

Its just been unfortunate bounces. Whether its been their own teammates, or something like that. With my concussion, Ive just got to be aware of my surroundings around me. I think the leagues done a good job.

Paille joked that he was going to run into the boards because he hadnt really been tested for contact during a light Monday skate with his teammates and a Tuesday morning session leading up to Kings game. He passed his Monday neuro-psych test with flying colors, and got the contact he was looking for when he was drilled by Dustin Brown in the first period.

Paille bounced right off the body contact and then got Brown back by sending him flying later on in the same shift. As luck would have it that was Pailles first shift of the game with Shawn Thornton and Zach Hamill, and the 27-year-old was off and running for the rest of the evening.

Part of the decision to play Paille was locked into Juliens desire to avoid playing two rookies (Hamill and Jordan Caron) on the Bs fourth line. Paille managed that with his 19 shifts along with his 2:32 of short-handed ice team that aided the Bs greatly in holding the Kings to an 0-for-5 on the man advantage.

Hes been feeling good for a couple of days and once he was cleared he was ready to go, said Julien. We needed a little bit of experience in our line-up with Zach Hamill coming in, so it was good timing on his part.

Paille said he thanked Brown, an infamously intense hitter within the NHL, for the jarring body shot because it let him know that he was officially free to skate without hesitation. So its back to work for one of Bostons grinders with the hope that the hockey gods smile upon him a little more brightly for the rest of the season.

Morning Skate: No place for Gudas’ slash on Perreault

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Morning Skate: No place for Gudas’ slash on Perreault

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while enjoying the new Brown Sugar Cinnamon coffee flavor at Dunkin’ Donuts. It’s not Cookie Dough, but what is after all?

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) and PHT writer James O’Brien has the details on Radko Gudas getting ejected for an ugly, reckless and dangerous slash to Mathieu Perreault’s head last night. Gudas should be facing a long suspension for a play that has no place in the NHL. It’s time for Flyers fans to stop making excuses for a player who’s no better than a cheap-shot artist and hatchet man. He has to face the music for consistently trying to hurt his fellow players.  

*Frank Seravalli has some of the details for a historic GM meeting in Montreal where NHL hockey was born in the first place.

*You always need to link to a service dog being part of the pregame face-off ceremonies. That’s like a rule here at the morning skate?

*Cam Atkinson and the Columbus Blue Jackets have agreed to a seven-year contract extension, according to reports from the Athletic.

*It’s been quite an eventful year for Arizona Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet and some of it has been to the extreme both good and bad just a month into his first year as bench boss.

*For something completely different: Chris Mannix is all-in on the Celtics being the front-runners in the Eastern Conference after their big win over the Golden State Warriors.

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Haggerty: For now, Bruins need to ride Khudobin’s hot hand over Rask

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Haggerty: For now, Bruins need to ride Khudobin’s hot hand over Rask

These are desperate times for the Bruins even after pulling out a solid, blue-collar 2-1 win over a sputtering Los Angeles Kings team on Thursday night.

The victory ended a four-game losing streak and gave the Bruins just their second road win of the season in eight tries. It was also the fourth win of the season for backup netminder Anton Khudobin, who is a sterling 4-0-2 and has given them everything they could possibly hope for out of the backup spot. The Bruins have a grand total of 18 points on the season and Khudobin miraculously has more than half of those (10 to be exact).

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It’s clearly a far cry from last season for Khudobin, of course, when it took until February for the goalie’s season to get in gear.

But Thursday night’s 27-save effort from Khudobin was also a stunning contrast to what Tuukka Rask has been able to produce this season. Khudobin has a .928 save percentage and 2.35 goals-against average. Rask has a dreadful .897 save percentage while giving them average play between the pipes at best.  

Khudobin is tied for seventh in the NHL with reigning Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky in save percentage and Rask is chilling in the NHL goalie statistical basement with retreads Steve Mason and James Reimer.

Quite simply, Khudobin has been way better than Rask and the Bruins have, for whatever reason, played better hockey in front of their backup goalie. Some of it might also be about Khudobin’s more adaptable game behind a Boston defense that can make things unpredictable for their goaltender, but Rask is being paid $7 million a season to be better and figure it out. It would be amazing if this trend continued for the entire season and it would certainly merit more examination from management as to why the rest of the Bruins and Rask can’t seem to combine for an effective, winning product on the ice.

For now, the Bruins need to simply win by whatever means necessary and that amounts to riding Khudobin’s hot streak for as long as it lasts. It should begin with the backup goalie getting a second consecutive start against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night and seeing where it goes from there. Perhaps the extra rest gets Rask additional time to get his game together, or serves as the kind of motivation to get the Finnish netminder into a mode where he can steal games for an undermanned, out-gunned team that needs that right now.

“We’re going to look at it,” said Bruce Cassidy, when asked postgame by reporters in L.A. about his goalie for Saturday night. “He played very well against San Jose last time. They’re a heavy team. He seems to do well in these kinds of games with a lot of traffic around the net. But we’ll look at that decision [Friday].”

Khudobin has stopped 57 of 61 shots in his two games in November, so perhaps that level of hot goaltending could also allow the Bruins to survive a month that otherwise might absolutely bury their playoff hopes. Maybe Khudobin finally loses on Saturday night and the goaltending conversation, not controversy, ends as quickly as his point streak. For now, riding the hot goalie is the right call for a team that needs something good to hang onto.

The Bruins are in desperation mode until they get a number of their injured players back. There certainly might not be more of a desperate option than setting their beleaguered sights on a goalie they sent to the minors as recently as last season. But it’s a new season, Khudobin has been excellent and he’s earned a chance to carry this team for a little bit until they can get things back in order.

Calling Khudobin’s number is the right call right now for the Bruins and, quite frankly, shouldn’t be that difficult a choice given what we’ve seen so far this season. 

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