A Steve Staios slap shot to the face in early November didn’t make Daniel Paille rethink his career choice.
Instead he underwent surgery, sported one of the ugliest shiner/broken nose combinations in recent memory around the Bruins’ dressing room and then, 10 days later, got right back into the Bruins’ lineup in his role as Boston’s fourth-line left winger.
A one-time 19-goal scorer (with Buffalo in 2007-08), Paille has continually improved in his less-heralded but vital job with the Bruins. While his speed and determination has always been there, he’s added a physical element that’s helped him skate with Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton.
By signing him to a new multi-year contract, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli is hoping for at least what he’s gotten out of Paille the last couple years over the next three seasons. But the GM might be looking for a little more, and that could require Paille breaking double digits in goals again after he scored just nine last season.
With Paille, the opportunities always seem to be available. He just needs to cash in more.
Regular season: 69 GP, 9-6-15, minus-5
Playoffs: 7 GP, 1-0-1, minus-1
Contract status: Signed through 2014-15 at a cap hit of $1.3 million
Regular season recap
Highlight: The Bruins always enjoy playing in Ottawa, and Paille made the most of their Dec. 14 visit – a 5-2 win. Paille matched a career high with two goals, one on a breakaway and one with a slap shot on the rush in the rout.
Lowlight: In the Bruins’ emotional loss to Vancouver Jan. 7, Paille failed on a penalty shot that couldn’t turned the tide in Boston’s favor. He managed just one shot on goal in 13:58 of ice time after playing so well against the Canucks the previous June.
Playoff recap: The Bruins’ fourth line was outplayed by that of Washington for much of the seven games. Still, Paille scored a goal in the Bruins’ Game 3 win, which relatively speaking was more production than Boston got from most of its top six forwards.
Grade: B. Paille, along with his fourth-line mates, can bring more production next season. Maybe their workmanlike approach suffered most from the short offseason.
Carnac predicts … Paille will be pushed for ice time by some of Boston’s prospects and could end up as the 13th forward or as trade bait sooner rather than later. That would bode well for the Bruins because it would be a sign of how deep their prospect crop really is.