Daniel Paille remains a reluctant hero after all these years.
He has always been about the team. Ask anyone who knew him back in Welland, Ont., when he was in the local Tigers minor system or later with the Welland Jr. B Cougars or the Guelph Storm or the Canadian junior team.
The 29-year-old Boston Bruins left wing isn't about to change now that he has scored the game-winning goals in Games 2 and 3 of the Stanley Cup final against the Chicago Blackhawks to push his club to a 2-1 series lead.
His Boston teammates and head coach could not be happier that some recognition has come Paille's way.
"He's been great for us all year, probably one of the most consistent guys," Boston veteran Shawn Thornton said. "I can't remember exactly how many goals he had [10 in 46 games], but he played a big role this year and all through the playoffs he's been very consistent.
"So for him to get some recognition because he's gotten a couple goals has been great. I think he probably could have deserved it before he was scoring goals. He plays big minutes on the penalty kill. He lays out bodies. He does a lot of things right out there. I'm happy for him."
Like Thornton mentioned, Paille is one of the Bruins' stellar penalty killers, who have snuffed out 27 man-short situations in a row. This incredible run dates back to the Bruins' second-round finale against Paille's childhood friend and Guelph Storm teammate Dan Girardi and the New York Rangers. Paille and Girardi were the best man at each other's wedding.
One of the reasons why the Bruins are two wins away from their second Stanley Cup championship in three years is their balanced attack, including their diligent fourth line of Paille, Gregory Campbell and Thornton.
But when Campbell broke his left leg blocking an Evgeni Malkin shot in Game 3 of the East final against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Bruins head coach Claude Julien searched for the right mix among his third and fourth lines.
He finally discovered a productive combination with the speedy Paille on the left side of centre Chris Kelly and Tyler Seguin. This trio has scored three of the Bruins' last four goals.
"I guess we found out the problem, me and Thorty [Thornton] have been holding him back the last few years," Campbell joked. "He's been big for our team. I've gotten the opportunity to watch him now that I'm not playing with him. He does a lot of things that really help out a team in the playoffs.
"Playoff hockey is really when he shines. I can relate to that. It's the simple things that might not draw a lot of attention during the regular season, but when it really matters in the playoffs, he's been there for us. As you've seen throughout the playoffs, it's been repetitively the same guys scoring night in and night out. That's extremely hard as you move on and face better teams, better defencemen. For the top two lines to keep scoring on that pace is extremely hard."
That's why the Blackhawks' third line made big contributions in the series opener and the Bruins' newly formed third line has been so good in the past two games.
"My point is that it takes four lines," Campbell said. "For Danny to really step up and really be a leader in that sense, I'm extremely happy for him because he's one of the better guys I've played with, [one of the] nicer people. But he works hard and he deserves to do well. I'm glad that he's helping the team."
Julien wished out loud that he'd have put Paille, Kelly and Seguin together earlier in this playoff run.
"They just seem to be working well together," Julien said. "A lot of credit goes to them. I'm just a little ticked off that I didn't put them together sooner."
Paille learned the game in a flooded ditch near his home. His work ethic and physical play shone through in his four seasons of junior in Guelph, two Memorial Cups and two world junior tournaments for Canada. The Buffalo Sabres certainly noticed and drafted him 20th overall in 2002.
He scored 19 goals in his first full season in Buffalo in 2007-08, but found his groove in Boston, when the Sabres traded him to their rivals (the first trade made between the two teams in 39 years) for third- and fourth-round draft picks.
Only Los Angeles Kings defenceman Slava Voynov has more game-winners in the 2013 playoffs than Paille. In total, he has four goals in 19 games this post-season after he scored four times in his previous 46 career playoff games prior to this spring.
When Paille scored game-winners in Games 2 and 3, he became only the sixth player in the last 21 years to score back-to-back deciding goals in a Stanley Cup final.
2013 -- Daniel Paille (Boston)
2006 -- Fernando Pisani (Edmonton)
1995 -- Neal Broten (New Jersey)
1994 -- Glenn Anderson (New York Rangers)
1993 -- John LeClair (Montreal)
1992 -- Mario Lemieux (Pittsburgh)
Do you have improvements to suggest for this page?