Daniel Paille, out with an upper-body injury for the last three games, participated in an optional morning skate before the Bruins defeated the Sabres, 3-1, Thursday. That Paille made it through the session without any setbacks indicates that the left wing should be returning to the lineup in short order. In turn, Lane MacDermid will return to Providence.
A three-game stint with the big boys, however, has done everything to indicate that a more permanent NHL residence for MacDermid is coming soon.
MacDermid, son of former NHLer Paul MacDermid, has played on the fourth line with Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton. They were his first NHL matches. Certainly not his last.
“Obviously he’s got some good genes,’’ said coach Claude Julien. “He has some hockey sense. You watch him play, he finishes his checks well. He plays a big, tough, grinding type of game.
“But he also plays a smart game. When it’s time to backcheck or be the third man, he reads the play very well. He’s certainly not a liability out there.
“Right now, what I appreciate from him is that he’s come in and not played on his heels. He’s just gone out there and played hard. He seems to have a lot of confidence.’’
The 22-year-old MacDermid is a perfect fourth-line fit for Boston’s system. The 6-foot-3-inch, 205-pounder plays a north-south, in-your-face game with plenty of sandpaper. In Tuesday’s 5-4 win at Toronto, MacDermid landed a game-high six hits in 8:41 of ice time.
MacDermid belted the Maple Leafs without running around and chasing players. He has been in the right place at the right time to send opponents tumbling to the ice.
Against the Sabres, MacDermid continued his rambunctious approach. He had two shots and two blocks in 12:54 of ice time and was on the ice for Campbell’s second-period goal. Julien didn’t hesitate to roll MacDermid and his linemates in the third period.
“That’s what we tried to do tonight - roll four lines,’’ Julien said. “We wanted to try and keep the pressure on them, knowing they’d played the night before.
“That line was good for us tonight. I thought they did a great job on the forecheck and spending some time in the offensive zone.’’
It helps that he has been alongside Campbell and Thornton. During training camp, the three played regular shifts in games and practices. Campbell and Thornton also have high hockey IQs. The three have been in synch when forechecking, playing defense, and creating scoring chances.
“The players up here, they really know their positions well,’’ MacDermid said. “They play it well. Especially playing with Greg and Thorty, I’ve played with them a bit. I kind of know where they’ll be.’’
MacDermid’s eventual return to Providence may not last long. If Providence fails to qualify for the AHL playoffs, he will likely rejoin the big club as one of the Black Aces, the extra postseason practice players.
In 2012-13, MacDermid could become a full-time NHLer. Paille and Thornton will become unrestricted free agents if they do not re-sign with the Bruins.
On his first NHL shift, Sunday at Madison Square Garden, MacDermid squared off with the Rangers’ Mike Rupp, who is considered one of the NHL’s toughest and most respected sluggers. While Rupp landed the better shots, MacDermid held his own and scored the takedown.
“We were kind of tangled up with each other, and it looked like there was an opportunity to fight,’’ MacDermid said. “So I took it.’’
Chances are, MacDermid will have plenty more of those.
Turco suits up
Marty Turco, signed Monday to a one-year, $600,000 contract, was in uniform as Tim Thomas’s backup against Buffalo. Turco wore No. 1, last seen in Boston on the back of Andrew Raycroft. Julien didn’t indicate when Turco might see game action. The Bruins have back-to-back games against Washington and Pittsburgh Saturday and Sunday. It’s possible Turco could get the nod against the Penguins at the Consol Energy Center. “I have to play it by ear,’’ Julien said. “I have to see how comfortable he is and everything else. The minute he’s comfortable, he’s going to get an opportunity.’’
Ference skates, too
Paille was joined by Andrew Ference (lower body) during the optional morning skate. Both are considered day to day . . . Benoit Pouliot was in the lineup after playing only 4:50 against Toronto on Tuesday because of a lower-body injury. He had two shots and three hits in 12:31 of ice time. Pouliot didn’t practice Wednesday. With Pouliot in the lineup, Max Sauve was reassigned to Providence . . . Greg Zanon was a healthy scratch for the first time as a Bruin. Mike Mottau, scratched for four straight games, replaced Zanon on the third defense pairing alongside Adam McQuaid. Mottau had two hits and one blocked shot in 14:06. “We don’t want a guy sitting out for a month, then all of a sudden you get into the playoffs and you’re asking him to step in,’’ Julien said. “Hopefully we’re in a position where we can monitor that and continue to do a good job of putting those guys in the lineup and keeping them as sharp as we can.’’
Brad Marchand was shaken up by a Tyler Myers hit into the boards with approximately six minutes remaining in regulation. Marchand skated off in pain and remained on the bench but didn’t take another shift. Julien said Marchand could have played had he been needed . . . Patrice Bergeron won 20 of 27 faceoffs. Bergeron had usually tangled with Paul Gaustad, one of the league’s best faceoff men, but Buffalo sent Gaustad to Nashville at the trade deadline . . . Johnny Boychuk flattened Thomas Vanek with a third-period hit, and Vanek left the ice later in the period. Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said Vanek was being evaluated for an upper-body injury.Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeFluto.