The Boston Bruins clinched the Presidents' Trophy Saturday afternoon with a 4-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres, but it came at a cost. Bruins forward Daniel Paille had to leave the game after taking a devastating hit from Buffalo rookie defenseman Jake McCabe.
McCabe stood Paille up at the blue line with a solid check. Paille looked dazed has he looked up from the ice with the visor on his helmet fogged over from his breath. When he tried to get to his feet, Paille had trouble standing on his own and needed to be helped off the ice.
The hit itself actually looked clean, but McCabe was given a five-minute major for interference and a game misconduct. It's a curious call as McCabe hit Paille immediately after Paille chipped the puck into the Sabres' zone. The young defenseman was already committed to the hit by the time Paille let the puck go.
The Sabres rookie was playing in just his sixth NHL game after recently signing a deal upon the conclusion of his junior season at the University of Wisconsin.
The end result, obviously, was obviously not good and likely triggered more severe action from the referees. It will be interesting to see if there is any supplemental discipline to come from this, but Paille's head did not appear to be the principal point of contact. It's one of those very close plays which unfortunately ended with an injury.
The Bruins certainly look to be the class of the Eastern Conference, but losing a solid veteran forward like Paille is not helpful to Boston's depth. Paille has 18 points this season and has solid ability in the defensive end as well. He had nine points last year during Boston's run to the Stanley Cup Final.
Bruins head coach Claude Julien offered no update on Paille's status, according to reports from Boston, but the images above obviously don't look good. Making matters worse, Paille suffered a concussion in early March and missed two games because of it. If his injury is in fact a head injury, having two in such short succession would be a concern.
The Bruins will wrap up the season Sunday on the road against the New Jersey Devils.