WILMINGTON, Mass. — It would’ve been easy for Daniel Paille to feel like a fall guy when the Bruins set their lineup for the second game of their series with Phoenix in Prague and he was left off of it.
However, Paille took it with the proper professionalism and now knows he has to start on the road to earning his spot back.
“Everyone was terrible the first game, including myself,” said the veteran winger after practice today at Ristuccia Arena. “There’s certain things I need to work on before I’m in the mix again to play.”
Paille skated on a line with Tyler Seguin and Michael Ryder in Boston’s season-opening 5-2 loss to the Coyotes. He committed a couple of costly turnovers, including one that directly led to Scottie Upshall’s breakaway. He finished a minus-1. Those types of plays are magnified when a player is in the lineup predominantly for his defense.
Today Paille was the fourth guy practicing on the newly formed line that skated in the Game 2 victory — Seguin, Ryder and Mark Recchi. Head coach Claude Julien made it clear that Paille’s not in the doghouse, just in the backyard trying to fight his way through the glass door into a crowded living room.
“It certainly has nothing to do with us being totally unhappy with him because he’s been a pretty good player,” said the coach. “It happened that he had a mediocre game, our team didn’t win and this was a chance to put (Jordan) Caron in the lineup. And Caron did well.
“Now we’ve got some decisions to make again before next game. But by all means, I don’t think we should stand here and say the coaching staff’s not happy with his play. He’s a good player. You see him in practice here, he’s practicing well, he’s making things happen. So we’ve got maybe a luxury here of some players creating some good competition.”
Paille’s been in this position before. He said he can recall a couple times when he started the season slow. And last season, when even though he thought he was he was doing well, enough to play, Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff still scratched Paille for the first four games of the year until injuries forced the Sabres to use the speedster. Eventually, Buffalo traded Paille to the Bruins for a draft pick.
Paille says this year and last year are totally different situations.
“It’s definitely better communicating here than it was in Buffalo,” said Paille. “The team played great last game, so I’m not going to expect a change anyway. So I’m just going to be ready for the next game.”