Niagara Gazette

Sports

November 21, 2006

SABRES: Paille latest to shimmer in Sabres depth pool

COMMENTARY

BUFFALO — Daniel Paille is used to having things taken from him. While many figured he was a natural for the final spot on the Sabres roster out of training camp, the team elected to keep Jiri Novotny, sending Paille and an EZPass up the I-90.

When Maxim Afinogenov’s shoulder got banged, it was all but assumed Paille would get the call — but instead Buffalo plucked speedy youngster Drew Stafford from the farm.

And when Paille finally cracked the lineup for just the 15th time in two years on Monday, buzzing around when the team needed his energy most, he had a goal taken from him.

No matter. You get the sense these Sabres don’t compare score sheets, just standings.

Originally, credit for the Sabres’ second goal went to Paille after he wheeled and floated a knuckleball that got by Tampa goalie Marc Denis.

At the time, the goal was Paille’s second in the pros and gave Buffalo a 2-1 lead it wouldn’t relinquish. After further review, and a stoppage for a “board malfunction,” the goal was credited to Novotny, giving Paille an assist.

But even if all the winger had was a pair of helpers to his credit on Monday, make no mistake about his impact. Losers of two of their previous three, the Sabres were struggling to get the legs churning, giving Paille the chance to become the latest improbable sparkplug in a season that keeps revving higher.

“He’s played very well in Rochester,” Lindy Ruff said of Paille. “We thought he might give us a little life with the energy he supplies.”

Of course, the key to the play of Paille, Stafford, and others who seem to help the Sabres when they need a pick-me-up, is the ability to concentrate on a few select shifts each period. Paille played over 14 minutes on Monday, but only because the Sabres led by a full hand of fingers after the second intermission.

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