Finishing touch: How Daniel Paille has become a more dangerous penalty-killer
|05.06.13 at 11:25 pm ET|
TORONTO — There have been few better stories with this Bruins team than Daniel Paille, a former first-round pick (and one of the nicer guys in the game) who never became a big star, carving out an important role with Boston. It isn’t glamorous, but Paille has a job as a fourth line left winger and penalty-killer, and he does it exceptionally.
Paille had his best campaign with the Bruins in the regular season, scoring 10 goals — two of which were shorthanded — and adding seven assists for 17 points. That point total is two less than his previous Boston best set in 2009-10, but he did it in 28 less games.
The Bruins value their penalty-killers, but Paille, like Brad Marchand, is more than a penalty-killer. His ability to create shorthanded scoring opportunities semi-regularly can be a game-changer, and he proved it once again on Monday when he intercepted a Phil Kessel pass intended for Dion Phaneuf and raced to the net before beating James Reimer with a backhander to make it a 4-1 game.
It’s easy to see why Paille is capable of creating as many scoring opportunities on the penalty kill — he’s smart and he’s fast — but this season it seems that he’s done had more chances on the PK than ever before.
“I think I’m a lot more confident with the puck in knowing what I need to do on breakaways and trying to find out certain weaknesses,” Paille said. “I like when there’s pressure on me and then I’m not thinking about it. It makes it a lot easier for me to just react instead of think.”
As for the issue of finishing, which has plagued him throughout his career, Paille said that taking a calmer approach has allowed him to capitalize once he does have a scoring opportunities. He remembers trying to shoot as hard as he could in the past, but now he focus on placement above all else. That was apparent on his backhander to beat Reimer in the second.
Zdeno Chara praised Paille’s positioning and use of his speed in noting what makes the 29-year-old such a threat on the penalty kill. You can’t count out Paille’s smarts either.
‘I just try to read plays at the same time,’ Paille said. ‘Honestly, I try not to over-commit, but at the same time I want to have my stick there where they can’t pass it. In that situation I was able to get a piece of it and it stopped dead for me. That’s where I have to use my speed to get ahead of the other guy.’