Bruins

Paille's play couldn't be cleaner for Bruins

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Paille's play couldn't be cleaner for Bruins

SUNRISE, Fl. Daniel Paille has never been the kind of player thats going to rack up heavy penalty minutes despite his role as an energetic attacker on the Bruins fourth line.

But the 27-year-old forward has quietly and efficiently taken things to a different level this season in terms of discipline and control. Paille is the only regular member of Bostons lineup yet to take any kind of penalty this season, and isnt sure he wants to delve too deeply into the why behind it.But it also makes him something of a rare breed: the cleanest player on a Bruins team that prides themselves on getting into the face of opponents and working off an intimidating air about them.

Its not something Im trying to do. There were a couple of questionable plays where I thought I was going to take a penalty and didnt surprisingly, said Paille. I try to play the game a clean way, and I havent crossed over that line to deserve a penalty. Its not something I normally talk about, but Im there right now. Its kinda odd.

Some of it is pure happen stance, of course, as Paille admitted hes probably gotten away with a few things here or threthrough his first 37 games of the season. But the low PIM total is still impressive given that Paille ranks in the middle of the Bs team pack with 28 registered hits and nine takeaways on the season. Bringing a physical presence built around his speed and tenacity is the first order of business for a forward line expected to bring a little thump to the game along with Shawn Thornton and Gregory Campbell.

Its the same hustling, intelligent, gritty game that Paille has brought to the table over the last three years since arriving in a very underrated trade pulled off by Peter Chiarelli, but hes simply doing his job even better than before.

Paille has already scored more goals this year (seven) than he did last season (six) and is only three points off last years total for the entire year. Of course the forward only played 43 games in something of a lost year after getting lost in the shuffle early in the season.

This season Paille has missed minimal time while battling through a shattered nose and a mild concussion, and has managed to steer off bad luck with some very good performances. Its been a good overall season and a big step up from the aforementioned challenging campaign when Paille battled with consistency and confidence before hitting his stride late in the season just prior to the playoffs.

Both Campbell and Thornton have racked up high PIM counts this season, but nearly all of their penalty calls are matching fighting majors or matching minor penalties. Part of the Bs fourth line mantra is to avoid putting their team down a man with lazy or careless plays on the ice, and theyre good at keeping things in check. In terms of a Lady Byng candidate Paille is the best that the rough and tumble Bruins have to offer, but thats something hes not reading too much into.

Its surprising I dont have any penalties because there are questionable hits and questionable everything especially with our lines role, said Paille. Ive been in plenty of scrums but havent made my way to the box with the whole line and our team getting into physical confrontations. Ive typically never had too many penalties in my career, but to get halfway through the season is a little shocking.

Im not trying to get a penalty, but in the same sense Im trying my best to take the puck off somebody elses stick the right way. If I happen to get a penalty when it happens then so be it.

One other piece to Pailles penchant for staying out of the sin bin: his important role on the teams penalty kill unit. Paille averages 1:28 of ice time while shorthanded, and hes paired up with Campbell to give the Bruins a dynamic forward pairing put together on the PK unit. Put the whole package together and the Bruins have a player in Paille thats figured out that a little extra hustle and some poise in tight situations is helping the individual and team put their best foot forward.

Paille may take a couple of minor penalties before the season is over, but that wont change the very heady, hustling season hes putting up in Boston.

Bruins closing in on Nash with many details to iron out

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Bruins closing in on Nash with many details to iron out

TORONTO – It sounds like the Boston Bruins are on the verge of a fairly substantial trade if they can iron out some of the details both big and small.

According to multiple reports and sources, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney is closing in on a trade for New York Rangers winger Rick Nash ahead of Monday afternoon’s trade deadline. The 33-year-old Nash has 18 goals and 28 points in 60 games this season for the Blueshirts, and really has been in decline over the last couple of years in New York since scoring 42 goals and 69 points back in the 2014-15 season.

Still, Nash has quite the resume as the first overall pick in the 2002 NHL Draft and a guy that’s scored over 400 goals and nearly 800 points in his 14-year NHL career while starring for the Columbus Blue Jackets and Rangers during that time. The 6-foot-4, 220-pounder would bring the size, heaviness and experience factor that the Bruins have been looking to add to their wing ahead of the stretch run and playoffs, and certainly could be energized down the stretch while potentially playing a second line role with a center like David Krejci.

Don Sweeney indicated prior to the reports surfacing that the Bruins could be more invested into the rental market this season, given their strong campaign, than they originally thought they’d be when the season started.

“We’d like to think that the group can continue on along the path that they’re on, but if you can add to it and help it…the rental market depends on what you’re going to give up, and what that impact of that player is necessarily going to be and how they’re going to fit into the group,” said Sweeney. “The chemistry piece is an important piece in and around the trade deadline, so that’s something we have to be cognizant of.”

There are, however, a couple of issues for the Bruins and Rangers to work out before it’s a done deal. One is the massive cap hit for Nash that would still be well over $3 million even if the Rangers agree to eat half of his remaining contract, and that would leave the Bruins to need to clear some space with a corresponding deal elsewhere. There’s also the matter of ponying up assets in exchange for Nash, who it’s believed would cost the Bruins a first round pick and a solid prospect that is not yet on the NHL roster.

That means the Bruins would able to avoid potentially dealing Brandon Carlo, Jake DeBrusk or Danton Heinen from their NHL roster, which it wasn’t expected they would need to move in a rental deal for Nash. But it does mean the Bruins likely would be parting with a blue chip prospect still in the development stage, whether it’s Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Jakub Zboril, Zach Senyshyn or even a college hockey prospect like Trent Frederic.

That’s a big price to pay from Boston’s future to be sure, but it would be done based on Nash being an impact player this season for a Bruins team that looks like they might have a pretty good postseason run in them.

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Marcus Smart makes the Celtics great again

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Marcus Smart makes the Celtics great again

Two games in and the return of Marcus Smart has had the effect many predicted it would for Boston.

There may be other Celtics who score more points, tally more assists and snare a few more rebounds.

But the impact of Smart’s play on what truly matters – winning – is undeniable.

His play was one of the keys to Boston’s 121-112 win at New York on Saturday night.

Smart came off the bench to score 11 points to go with five assists and three steals.

In his two games back, Smart is averaging 11.5 points, 5.5 assists, 2.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals while shooting 64.3 percent from the field.

Yes, it’s a small sample size for sure.

More than anything, it serves as a reminder of how one of Smart’s greatest assets as a player is his ability to contribute in a multitude of ways.

“He just adds a lot of versatility to our offense and our defense,” Boston’s Kyrie Irving told NBC Sports Boston following Saturday’s game. “He has a high awareness on both ends. He’s able to create opportunities for all of us at both ends of the floor and we appreciate that.”

Certainly Smart is credited for being a good defender, and his play-making skills have improved dramatically in the last year or so.

But arguably Smart’s biggest contribution is that his play allows others around him, to focus on whatever it is that they do well, knowing that Smart has the ability to do both his job as well as provide help when needed.

Boston’s defense struggled mightily before the break with teams scoring seemingly whenever they wanted to.

But in the last two games, Boston has looked more like the defensive unit that has been among the NBA’s best most of this season.

In the last two games, Boston’s defensive rating has been 104.5 which ranks 11th in the NBA during that span.

Several factors have played a role in Boston’s improved defense the last two games; among them being the return of Smart who missed 11 games after punching a picture frame last month that left him with 20 stitches.

“It’s the appreciation of Marcus Smart right there,” Irving said. “Implement him and him just putting his stamp and identity on our team as well. It just makes a lot of other guy’s job, easier. Because he covers up a lot of our mistakes as well as playing with unbelievable awareness at both ends of the floor. He understands spacing, he understands how the little things matter.”

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