We all hear names like Tyler Seguin, Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand circulating around a lot, but very seldom do you hear the names Benoit Pouliot, Gregory Campbell or Rich Peverley. You don’t hear bands like Rest Assured coming out with songs like ‘I’m on my Benoit Pouliot sh_ _,’ not only because it doesn’t flow, but because he isn’t considered a ‘favorite.’ They seem to be the unsung heroes of the Bruins team this season.
Benoit Pouliot came to the Bruins Organization at the start of the season from the Montreal Canadiens as a free agent. Questions about his adjustment began circulating and there was a lot of speculation coming from many different angles that he was a bad choice. In the beginning it would appear as though Pouliot was unsure what he was doing out on the ice. Every time he would get hit he would fall and he would take ridiculous penalties costing the Bruins.
Coming into November he was 0-0-0 in eight games and had sat out as a healthy scratch against the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs. When Coach Claude Julien would be asked about Pouliot, he had nothing but praise for the left-winger stating:
“What I see is basically a guy getting more comfortable and his work ethic is there, you see him working hard, and we keep working with him as far as making sure he’s adjusting to what we expect from him and what our system’s all about.” (via “Patience for Pouliot”)
While the fans of Boston patiently waited for Julien’s words to come to life, Pouliot showed some glimpses of what to expect in a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs in October. He showed a physical presence in front of the opponent’s net and used his speed to frustrate the other team. Pouliot’s hustle with the puck drew a Toronto tripping penalty to give the B’s a power play on which Boston capitalized. While he wasn’t tallying any goals, he was providing the Bruins offense with opportunities, something that he was comfortable doing
“The points will come and I’m not too worried about that,” explained the forward. “We’re working hard and I’m trying to make my linemates have a little easier job to play.”(via John Griffin Interview)
While Pouliot missed a game on October 31 due to illness, he came back healthier than ever, beginning to evolve as a player helping beat the Islanders 6-2. Prior to Pouliot was 0-0-0 in his last eight games played. Just 1:32 into the first period he took a pass from Jordan Caron and put the puck into the net for his first goal of the season. After the game, fans began to realize what Julien had been talking about all along. “It was nice to see,” said Julien.
“He was in the right place. He was right there, put on the breaks, and banged it in.“Second period, almost had another identical one, with [Jordan] Caron throwing it across the crease. Like I said, he’s a guy that’s working hard, he’s trying to find his way on this hockey club, trying to adapt. His work ethic and compete level is there, so, again, we’ve just got to keep working with him and see how far we can go.”(“We’ve Got To Keep Going“)
Although he had put on a good performance against the Islanders, it wouldn’t be until November 15 that Pouliot would get to show his stuff once more netting the game-winner against the New Jersey Devils despite playing in only two of the previous six games.
“It helps mentality a lot,” he added. “You feel good after this. Right now I feel great.
“We’ve got a tough schedule coming up and it’s just a thing of keeping that going and keeping consistent.” (“Pouliot’s Shot Puts Bruins On Top“)
While Pouliot rode the bench for the majority of the Montreal game on November 21, it didn’t stop him from strutting his stuff once more in a shoot out win against the Buffalo Sabres which he notched yet another game-winner in the shoot-out and was the hero of the game, notching the Bruins their tenth straight win.
From that point on Pouliot would go on to create goal-scoring opportunities for his linemates and notch some pretty nice goals himself. He played alongside Tyler Seguin and Patrice Bergeron as Brad Marchand sat out a five-game suspension and registered a goal and an assist.
Throughout the season Pouliot has become one of the more versatile players proving he can be put on a line with anyone and he will adapt accordingly. He has proven to be a great play maker as well as having great net presence. He has taken fewer penalties and going into January was closing in on ten goals this season which, compared to superstars like Steven Stamkos and Evgeni Malkin, doesn’t seem like a lot, but for this young man, it is. Pouliot only registered 13 goals the entire season. While it isn’t a big achievement, it is still a step in the right direction and he can only go up from here.
Pouliot has also improved on taking the body in the boards, he doesn’t act as if he it’s his first day on skates anymore. He seems to have finally come out of his shell and show Bruins fans what he is really made of, lowering the number of penalties and creating some golden opportunities on whichever line Julien throws him on. Come play-off time, I wouldn’t be surprised to find Pouliot being the game-winning goal-scorer, much like Nathan Horton last play-off season.