BOSTON, MA -
In the midst of Chris Kelly
being out of the lineup indefinitely, it's a fair assumption that we'll see many B's stepping up in his absence.
One of those Bruins, Daniel Paille, has two goals in his past three games, and his compadres on the Merlot Line have combined for five points (3-2) in that span. Not usually relied upon for scoring, an upswing in that department would certainly help the Black & Gold.
Though Kelly had put up only two goals so far, the third line had looked poised to turn the corner in terms of offensive output.
"Yeah, now that we’re missing a man on the third, obviously I think our line's going to want to help a little bit more," said Paille, on his line with Shawn Thornton and Gregory Campbell. "I think we showed a little bit of that the last few games and we just want to continue that road, until that recovery for Kells comes back."
"But in saying that, we don’t want to change anything. We’re just finding that we’re being more patient and still playing the way we need to but we’re bearing down on our chances and they’re going in."
The speedy Paille has always created chances, whether shorthanded, by going in hard on the forecheck, or using his quick stride on breakaways. But lately, Paille has seen the puck go in a little more than he's used to.
"I think it’s just more about finishing, I guess staying focused on the play instead of quitting on it," said the forward, who's in his fourth season as a Bruin, and on pace to match his 10-goal total from the full season in 2009-10. "And mainly that’s what I’m trying to do right now and I want to continue that throughout that road this year."
And as the shortened season progresses, Coach Julien is likely to rely on his four-line depth, with games packed together.
"With our schedule now going towards the end of the season, it’s gonna be hectic and we need to play four lines," said Paille. "I think our team is built that way that for when the playoffs come, to give our top lines to get a little more rest so I know, for us, it’s going to be big to help produce and play some minutes for the team."
Coach Julien has also noticed an upswing in the 28-year-old's play this season, and attributes it to possibly a calmer Paille, staying patient in games.
"He just seems a little bit more comfortable," Coach Julien told reporters. "I don’t know whether that’s the reason or not."
"You’ve got to remember, all three of those guys were pushing pretty hard last year. They were all looking for new contracts and sometimes those things have an effect, it’s not just one guy on the line, it was all three. That’s the nature of the business, sometimes you’ve got to push through that."
Thornton was signed to a new contract in March, following by Merlot liners Paille and Campbell in June. Whether their comfort has come from not worrying about new deals, chemistry with each other, or they've just found their game, the trio is looking more like the 2010-11 Merlot Line that dictated the energy for the B's, all the way to the Stanley Cup.
"This year, they’re more in a position where they were a couple years ago, in playing together. They’ve found, I guess, that mojo that they had, and it’s a good thing, because we need it."