Paille gets call over Seguin
Rookie sits out after sick time
BUFFALO — To Paille or not to Paille? To Seguin or not to Seguin? Such were the questions Bruins coach Claude Julien pondered prior to last night’s 3-2 loss to the Sabres.
“Either way,’’ Julien offered following the late-morning workout, “I am going to win and I am going to lose.’’
So, go with Daniel Paille, the experienced hand and former Sabre accustomed to playing in this arena? Or go with Tyler Seguin, the 18-year-old rookie, chosen No. 2 overall in June draft, who missed last Saturday’s game against the Flyers because of flu-like symptoms?
In the end, Julien went with Paille, and made Seguin a healthy scratch for the first time in his career. Paille skated 10:43 over 15 shifts without landing a shot.
It was somewhat ironic that Seguin was assigned to the press box just as this city is readying to host the World Junior Championship at the same rink. Seguin learned less than two weeks ago that the Bruins would not release him to play for Team Canada — the same club that said he wasn’t good enough to make last year’s roster.
With the World Juniors less than two weeks away, Seguin, at least for a night, was neither on course to play for his country nor wearing the Black and Gold.
By Julien’s measure, it was hard to tell Paille to sit out because the 26-year-old plugger played well in Seguin’s place on Saturday, and also because the former first-round pick now has some 300 NHL games on his résumé. Such experience, noted Julien, is important, especially in a such an important week — with games against the Sabres, Canadiens (tonight), and Capitals (Saturday).
“If we do things right,’’ said Julien, “we could be battling for a top spot in the division.’’
As for Seguin, he is only 27 games into his career and has a mere 10 points, and has gone 1-1—2 over his last nine games. He started the season at center, his natural position, but was there only because the club was minus Marc Savard. With Savard back in the lineup, Seguin has been shifted to wing, a position with less overall defensive responsibility and a place where his transition into the pro game, and especially the offense, should be easier.
“It’s an 82-game season,’’ said Julien, pondering the impact on Seguin to be a healthy scratch for the first time. “I don’t think it will kill him.’’
Comfort zone Savard, who returned Dec. 2 after being sidelined with postconcussion syndrome, said after the morning workout that he is finally beginning to feel more comfortable on the ice.
“I thought I made more good plays in the last game,’’ said Savard, though noting his disappointment that his gaffe led to the Flyers’ winning goal in overtime. “So that feels like progress. I don’t have to think so much about what I’m doing out there, just go on instinct more.’’
Savard, 33, said his overall mood is better, too, after his struggles with depression.
“When stuff on the ice isn’t going the way I’d like it to, then I can feel it a little,’’ he said, referring to the depression. “But mostly I’d say I’m feeling pretty normal. And if I don’t, I’ve got the club docs there to help me. All good.’’
Savard saw 15:14 of ice time, including 4:16 on the power play, without a point.
Three stars By week’s end, the Bruins will have faced the Sabres, Canadiens, and Capitals. Entering last night, the top point-producing blue liner for each of those clubs was: Jordan Leopold, Buffalo, 7-10—17; Roman Hamrlik, Montreal, 3-12—15; and Mike Green, Washington, 5-9—14. Leopold, 30, signed with the Sabres July 1 as an unrestricted free agent (three years, $9 million), and has never scored more than the 33 points he collected with the 2003-04 Flames . . . Milan Lucic (15 goals) entered the evening as Boston’s top goal scorer. Lucic needs only three more strikes to improve on the career-best 17 he potted in 2008-09 . . . Adam McQuaid made it back to the lineup (11:44 of ice time) after being driven head-long into the rear boards Saturday by Flyers tough guy Jody Shelley (suspended two games for the hit). McQuaid said he felt fine when he reported to work yesterday morning. “Just had the wind knocked out of me , and took a little while to recover,’’ said the towering rookie, who is seeing extra ice time with Mark Stuart sidelined with a broken bone in his right hand. “No big deal.’’ . . . Rookie Steve Kampfer, summoned from Providence (AHL) when Stuart was injured, earned his first NHL point, picking up an assist on Michael Ryder’s third-period goal. He He took 22 shifts for 20:19 of ice time last night. . . . Blake Wheeler, the subject of trade rumors over the summer and through the first two months, probably can breathe a little easier after the trades of Matt Hunwick (Avalanche) and Marco Sturm (Kings) opened up necessary cap room. But Wheeler needs to pick up his offensive production. He is a mere 2-0—2 over the last 10 games. With but 10 points, he is on target for his weakest offensive production in three pro seasons, after averaging just under 42 points in his freshman and sophomore years . . . A brief melee broke out at game’s end, sparked over captain Zdeno Chara giving Sabres goalie Ryan Miller a grazing shot to the right arm in the final seconds. In the end, nothing more than a few punches thrown and some tempers flaring. Chara ended with four minutes in roughing minors and Savard two minutes for roughing. Buffalo’s Paul Gaustad and Cody McCormick each received two minutes for roughing.