NOTEBOOK: PAILLE IN TOP CONDITION
Thursday, 10.9.2008 / 4:25 PM ET / Features
By Erin Pollina - Sabres.com
|Daniel Paille (photo: Getty Images)|
In 2007-08, his first full season with the Buffalo Sabres, Paille became a staple on special teams, tallying three short-handed goals to lead the squad in that category (tied with Derek Roy). He also played a total of 137:32 minutes with a man-down.
Only three forwards on the Sabres played more minutes last season when short-handed: Jochen Hecht (206:43), Jason Pominville (221:43) and Derek Roy (137:32).
Two of them are his new linemates.
Playing alongside Hecht and Pominville- a pair that combined for 129 points last season- Paille hopes to build off his success on the penalty kill as he begins the year on one of the Sabres top scoring lines.
“It’s really exciting for me. I didn’t expect to start there,” Paille said, who shuffled between the third and fourth lines last year. “I found that I’ve adjusted well to their style but I know that I also have to bring some grit and make a few hits to help them out in the corners. The key for me is not to be frustrated and relax – but playing with those two guys makes things easier.”
Pominville does not believe that will be a problem.
“Danny can shoot the puck so hard, works extremely hard and is such a fast player,” he said. “He can score goals, he gets in the corners, battles hard and that’s what you want in a linemate. You want a guy that brings an honest effort every night. With Danny I think we have that.”
His work ethic applies to both ends of the ice. In addition to acting as a defensive forward, finishing last year with a plus-nine rating, the winger also tallied a career-high19 goals as well as 16 assists and 35 points through 77 games.
“He’s on the penalty kill and plays sound defensively,” centerman Derek Roy said. “You have to think of that. A guy that doesn’t go on the power play much, or at all, to score 19 goals is a huge accomplishment.”
His production led to an even bigger opportunity. Paille signed a two-year contract extension this summer as management identified him as among the top young talent on the roster.
Paille attributes that success to a shift in attitude. Developing a “shoot first” mentality, the 24 year old said he wants to continue to focus on driving to the net and creating more opportunities.
“I want to get better, I want to create more chances and I want to just do more than last year… if I can capitalize a little bit more, just a little bit, it could help. I’m just going to try and do my part.”
He will get his first chance tomorrow as the Sabres take on the Montreal Canadiens at HSBC Arena at 7:30 p.m.
Another shake-up to the Sabres depth chart is Lindy Ruff’s decision to split up the defensive tandem of Toni Lydman and Henrik Tallinder.
Tallinder should play alongside Buffalo’s newest captain, Craig Rivet while Lydman is likely to pair up with Teppo Numminen tomorrow night.
“The game that Henrik played with Rivet was one of his best games. I thought that pair really looked good,” Ruff said. “We are initially going to give it a try. It might be a little bit of having a right and left-handed defenseman together where they are always on the forehand. With Tony playing with Talli, you’ve got one defender that always ends up playing on his backhand. It puts some guys on a tougher situation. We’re looking at it. If it doesn’t seem to work, we can flip it pretty quick.”
Ruff also discussed the excitement of preparing for the season opener.
“Every year it’s special. If you usually get in [the arena] at 7:30 – 8 a.m., it’s 6:30 – 7 a.m. because you can’t wait to get it started,” he said. “It’s almost a nervous anxiety, even for the coaches. ‘Do we have everything covered? Have we gone through everything we can possibly go through?’ Even when you’ve done that you ask that question again. It doesn’t change. You have to get those few games under your belt and get back to being a bit more of a normal coach.”
As an NHL defenseman for more than a decade, Ruff knows about the adrenaline of playing at home. He shared one his more ‘memorable’ moments of playing the first game of the regular season.
“I scored in the first game,” Ruff said. “It was a great goal. I came over the blueline. I got the puck. I walked across the line… And I shot it in the empty net.
“There was 30 seconds left in the game or something like that.
“That’s a true story.”
To watch all of Ruff's post-practice comments, click here to watch on Sabres TV.
There are several rule changes for the 2008-09 season. The NHL has an informative video listing each one and providing corresponding clips from games. Click the link below to watch:
2008-09 RULES OF ENFORCEMENT
The Buffalo Sabres will be holding a “Party in the Plaza” prior to the start of the 38th season opener in franchise history tomorrow night.
The pre-game festivities will take place from 5-7 p.m. outside HSBC Arena in the Plaza area located near Perry and Illinois St. Fans can enjoy live music from Strictly Hip, and there will also be special guest appearances throughout the night. Food and drink will be available for purchase; with a three beer limit per person.
The party will take place rain or shine with free admission, as a game ticket will not be required for entrance to the party.