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Paille looking forward to meeting with Sabres

11.07.09 at 8:37 am ET
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Daniel Paille wouldn’t use the word frustrating to describe his situation with the Buffalo Sabres prior to an October 20 trade that brought the gritty winger to Boston.

He wouldn’t deny there’s a little bit of extra motivation for Saturday night’s home tilt against the first place Sabres, however. Just this once anyway, the 25-year-old penalty killer and third-line skater will be looking to show a little something to GM Darcy Regier and head coach Lindy Ruff after Paille found himself trapped in healthy scratch limbo with Buffalo this season.

“There’s definitely motivation. It’s a division rival team and it’s huge because of that, but playing against them for the first time. For sure there is motivation. You just don’t want to get caught up in that,” said Paille, who said playing one playoff game with the Sabres during his first season was one of his career highlights in Buffalo. “I felt like I gave everything I had [in Buffalo], and I’ve got no regrets. It was a positive experience for me, and I felt just the same when I was traded here.

“I always felt good and I worked every night. But there were times I guess where in their opinion I didn’t fit in. You have to respect that and move on.”

Paille only played in two games for the Sabres over the first three weeks of the season, and averaged 10:22 of ice time before heading to the B’s in exchange for a third-round pick and a conditional draft pick. Paille hasn’t missed a game for Boston since arriving with the Spoked B, and he’s made a tangible impact since donning the Black and Gold.

In eight games Paille has piled up four assists and lived up to his reputation as a physical player with good wheels and a solid skill level capable of excelling on the penalty kill. It’s hard to imagine the 25-year-old wasn’t good enough to earn ice time in Buffalo, but he described it as being caught up in a number’s game with a team shifting over to a more defense-based system.

“They had their thoughts and I just kept working. For me, I think it just came down to numbers,” said Paille. “I wasn’t part of it and I’ve moved on. It’s disappointing. Not so much frustrating. Everybody wants to play, and for that particular team I wasn’t a good fit.

“Obviously I was hoping for [playing time] here, but I could just as easily get scratched here too. I just have to make sure I don’t get too comfortable. I have to work hard every day.”

Paille clearly learned something from washing out of the organization that drafted and developed him, and Boston is reaping the benefits.

Give Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli a heap of credit for diagnosing a potentially serious issue early this season when the penalty kill faltered. Bringing Paille into the fold to help add the needed speedy, dangerous element to a sagging special teams unit was exactly what the doctor ordered. The Sabres forward along with Brad Marchand reintroduced an aggressive, fast, hard-nosed brand of penalty killing back to the Bruins – and Paille says it’s a part of the job he’s taken a lot of pride in during his four-year NHL career.

The proof is in the numbers, however, and the B’s have been much more difficult to pin down short-handed since Paille helped fortify a rotation of penalty killing forwards that also includes Patrice Bergeron, Steve Begin, David Krejci and Brad Marchand.

Paille ranks fifth among that quartet of forwards with 1:20 of short-handed ice time per game, and the Bruins have successfully killed off 18-out-of-19 penalties since the Sabres castaway hopped on board. That’s a 94.7 percent success rate over eight games that’s allowed the B’s to climb up to 18th overall with a 78.8 percent success rate while short-handed. Pretty damned good, and one of the big improvements that’s pushing the Bruins back toward respectability after some early troubles with inconsistent play and defensive breakdowns.


– As expected, Bruins forward Mikko Lehtonen was returned to the Providence Bruins on Friday afternoon after filling in for the B’s Thursday night in their 2-1 shootout loss to the Canadiens. Lehtonen was held scoreless in 7:08 of ice time Thursday night, and will head back to the P-Bruins to build on his 10 points (3 goals, 7 assists) and 25 penalty minutes in 11 AHL games.

Lehtonen was recalled on an emergency basis on Wednesday night, but was expected to return to Providence once Byron Bitz made it through Friday’s practice without aggravating his groin injury. Bitz thought he’d be ready to go for Saturday’s game against the Northeast Division-leading Sabres, who have allowed the fewest goals (24) in the NHL this season. Bitz skated with Trent Whitfield and Shawn Thornton

“I feel pretty good. It’s one of those things where one day it feels better and hopefully I’m turning the corner here,” said Bitz. “It feels pretty good. Hopefully it holds up. It’s always tough to watch, but it’s out of your control. If you’re injured, you’re injured. You just hope to heal as quickly as you can so you can get back out there.”

Bitz also has the distinction of being David Krejci’s roommate on road trips, and the Cornell alum was admittedly a bit concerned that he might also come down with the H1N1 virus after staying in the same hotel room with the center in Detroit. But he hasn’t started exhibiting any of the telltale symptoms, and hopes he’s out of the woods.

“I thought about that a little bit when I first heard about, but I’ve been feeling fine, knock on wood,” said Bitz. “Everybody is so careful about washing their hands and trying not to spread any kind of a flu bug. I just saw it online that [Krejci] had the swine flu, and I was surprised. He didn’t say anything about feeling under the weather to me.”

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Lehtonen returned to Providence

11.06.09 at 6:21 pm ET
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As expected, Bruins forward Mikko Lehtonen was returned to the Providence Bruins on Friday afternoon after filling in for the B’s Thursday night in their 2-1 shootout loss to the Canadiens. Lehtonen was held scoreless in 7:08 of ice time Thursday night, and will head back to the P-Bruins to build on his 10 points (3 goals, 7 assists) and 25 penalty minutes in 11 AHL games.

Lehtonen was recalled on an emergency basis on Wednesday night, but was expected to return to Providence once Byron Bitz made it through Friday’s practice without aggravating his groin injury. Bitz thought he’d be ready to go for Saturday’s game against the Northeast Division-leading Sabres, who have allowed the fewest goals (24) in the NHL this season. Bitz skated with Trent Whitfield and Shawn Thornton

“I feel pretty good. It’s one of those things where one day it feels better and hopefully I’m turning the corner here,” said Bitz. “It feels pretty good. Hopefully it holds up. It’s always tough to watch, but it’s out of your control. If you’re injured, you’re injured. You just hope to heal as quickly as you can so you can get back out there.”

Bitz also has the distinction of being David Krejci’s roommate on road trips, and the Cornell alum was admittedly a bit concerned that he might also come down with the H1N1 virus after staying in the same hotel room with the center in Detroit. But he hasn’t started exhibiting any of the telltale symptoms, and hopes he’s out of the woods.

“I thought about that a little bit when I first heard about, but I’ve been feeling fine, knock on wood,” said Bitz. “Everybody is so careful about washing their hands and trying not to spread any kind of a flu bug. I just saw it online that [Krejci] had the swine flu, and I was surprised. He didn’t say anything about feeling under the weather to me.”

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Bitz is back to practice with the B’s

11.06.09 at 12:53 pm ET
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WILMINGTON, Mass. – The good news: Byron Bitz was back on the ice with the rest of the team practicing Friday morning after missing three games with a strained groin muscle. This also means that Bitz – David Krejci’s roommate on road trips – hasn’t succumbed to the H1N1 virus that felled the 23-year-old playmaking pivot earlier this week.

The bad news: the Bruins are still mired in an offensive funk without the services of Marc Savard and Milan Lucic.

Bitz skated on a right wing with Trent Whitfield and Shawn Thornton during practice at Ristuccia Arena, and rookie Mikko Lehtonen was also still with the team practicing as the 13th forward.

If Bitz is healthy enough to play Saturday against the NHL’s stingiest defense in the Buffalo Sabres – allowing a league-best 24 goals this season, six better than the next-best team – then the emergency call-up will likely be returned to the Providence Bruins.

Here are today’s lines from practice:

Marco Sturm – Patrice Bergeron – Mark Recchi
Blake Wheeler – Vladimir Sobotka – Michael Ryder
Daniel Paille – Steve Begin – Brad Marchand
Shawn Thornton – Trent Whitfield – Byron Bitz/Mikko Lehtonen

We’ll have more in a bit.

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Turn up the volume: no one will feel sorry for us

11.06.09 at 2:05 am ET
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Say this much for Bruins head coach Claude Julien – he’s not looking for sympathy.

In the opening month of the season, he has lost his leading playmaker Marc Savard, his leading tough guy in Milan Lucic and now, David Krejci, one of his most skilled young forwards has been diagnosed with the H1N1 virus.

Add to that the team’s power play is dead last among the 30 NHL clubs and you have a team that is having a hard time scoring. How hard? Try 192 minutes, six seconds without lighting the lamp between Vladimir Sobotka’s tally on Saturday and Patrice Bergeron’s game-tying goal with 51.7 seconds to go on Thursday.

Still, the Bruins had to settle for just the one point as the trio of Blake Wheeler, Bergeron and Mark Recchi could not solve Carey Price in the shootout and fell 2-1 to the Montreal Canadiens.

Claude Julien said no one will feel sorry for the Bruins.

Julien said Bergeron deserved a star Thursday as Boston’s best player.

Montreal’s Carey Price said he could tell Bruins were desperate to score.

Tim Thomas said the Bruins couldn’t get discouraged when the Bergeron goal was disallowed in the second period.

Patrice Bergeron said the Bruins had to keep going, even after disallowed goal.

Bergeron said this is one step forward for the Bruins.

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Bruins once again are shooting mostly blanks

11.05.09 at 9:46 pm ET
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The Bruins once again seemed to be all up, over and around the net, and — lo and behold — there was even a measly goal scored. The B’s hadn’t potted a point in 192 minutes and 6 seconds deep into the third period of Thursday night’s tilt against the Canadiens,  but they finally broke the proverbial ice with a Patrice Bergeron special with 52 seconds remaining on the clock. Boston salvaged a point, but they still ended up losing a 2-1 shootout to the hated Habs at TD Garden.

The defeat allowed them to avoid their third straight shutout loss, but it still shines a glaring light over a Black and Gold offensive problem that doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. The last time the B’s had been shut out in three straight games? That would be way back in the Eddie Shore days of the 1929. Old Time Hockey. The B’s did win the Stanley Cup that season, but something tells me lightning isn’t striking twice.

Tim Thomas called it “breaking the seal” and that’s exactly what it was for a hockey gang that couldn’t shoot straight.

“We’re shooting the puck and now we have to get a bit more dirty and try and [reach] those rebounds,” said Steve Begin, who was his normal human pinball machine self against his old team. “That’s how we are going to score goals. It’s not going to be nice. It’s going to be ugly goals. It’s tough, but like I said we have to keep pushing ourselves. It’s going to happen.”

The Bruins actually looked to have ended the drought in the second period when Patrice Bergeron hustled after a loose rebound at Carey Price’s feet, and appeared to squeeze a shot through a sliver between the right post and Price’s leg pads. Bergeron was following a Sturm speed rush up the left side of the ice, and the B’s bench exhaled a large sigh of relief when the lamp went red for the first time in three games.

But a review of the goal found that Sturm — while battling with Roman Hamrlik by the right post in question – appeared to have slightly lifted the goal post just as the puck squirted past Price. Replays showed that the puck actually slid under the post after Sturm’s little lifting session. No goal and the scoreless streak was still on.

This was no case of Price standing on his head or a goaltender dazzling the B’s skaters with a flurry of show-stopping saves. Thursday night was Exhibit A of a Boston offense flailing their way through an epic struggle that would have seemed a near impossibility for last season’s goal-happy bunch.

Montreal’s only goal came in the first period when Andrei Kostitsyn took advantage of a Dennis Wideman spill in the neutral zone, and flashed toward the net with the puck. Kostitsyn attempted the wraparound score, and the puck somehow found its way to Glen Metropolit waiting out in front. Metropolit slammed a shot into the vacant portion of the net, and the Habs appeared to have all the offensive firepower they would need against the offensively-challenged Bruins.

But Bergeron managed the last-second rebound goal with Zdeno Chara occupying three different Canadiens defenders with his gargantuan 6-foot-9 frame in front of the Habs net, and Boston scraped together a point. Bergeron, Wheeler and Recchi all came up short in the shootout after a scoreless overtime, and Mike Cammalleri beat Thomas with a sizzling top-shelf wrister.

YOU’RE THE BEST AROUND AND NOTHING’S EVER GONNA GET YOU DOWN: Bergeron has been the best thing about the Bruins this season, and it’s no coincidence he was the player to finally snap Boston’s streak of futility. Both Bergeron and Sturm landed seven shots on net and were all over the ice in attempts to resuscitate a flatlining offense.

GOAT HORNS: Over three hours of scoreless hockey and absolutely nothing to show for three power play chances. The B’s are now fruitless in their last 20 power play tries, have scored only once in 23 attempts since Marc Savard went down with his broken left foot. I’d say anybody in Thursday night’s audience is wearing the goat horns right about now if the B’s hadn’t pulled out that last-ditch goal. Dennis Wideman had another neutral zone mistake that cost the B’s a score in the first period, but the slate is officially clean after Bergeron mercifully lit the lamp.

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Turn up the volume: Chiarelli on Rask

11.05.09 at 7:16 pm ET
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Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli addressed the media prior to Thursday’s game with Montreal and explained why the club decided to sign goaltender Tuukka Rask to a two-year contract extension through the 2011-12 season.

Chiarelli said they have seen steady improvement from Rask since they drafted him from Finland.

Chiarelli said veteran Tim Thomas is still the team’s No. 1 and a great role model for the 22-year-old Rask.

Chiarelli explained the origin and motivation of the Rask contract talks.

More from the team release below:

Rask has appeared in nine NHL games in his career  - all with the Bruins – and has registered a 5-2-2 record, 2.43 Goals Against Average, .917 save percentage and two shutouts. He has played in four games this year for the Bruins and has posted a 2-1-1 record, 2.41 GAA and .920 save percentage. He is coming off a 2-0 shutout win of the Edmonton Oilers in his last start on October 31.

Rask made his NHL debut for the Bruins on November 20, 2007 against the Toronto Maple Leafs and recorded his first NHL victory in that game. He spent the majority of the last two seasons in the American Hockey League with the Providence Bruins where he had a 60-33-6 record and five shutouts in 102 appearances. He opened the season on an NHL roster for the first time in his career this year.

The 6’2’’, 171-pound native of Savolinna, Finland played two seasons in the Finnish Elite League before coming to North America in 2007 and he has represented Team Finland in three World Junior Championships.

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Turn up the volume: Chiarelli on H1N1

11.05.09 at 7:01 pm ET
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Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli addressed the media prior to Thursday night’s game against Montreal announced the club’s medical staff has confirmed a diagnosis of H1N1 for David Krejci.

Based on Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations, Krejci will be isolated from the rest of the team until he is symptom and fever free for 24 hours.

Chiarelli said the team is taking all precautions to ensure that facilities are kept sanitized.

Chiarelli said the team is taking this diagnosis very seriously.

Chiarelli admitted this adds to a very frustrating time for a team trying to find it’s early season rhythm.

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