Benoit Pouliot Beginning To Improve
When the Bruins had announced the signing of former Canadien Benoit Pouliot, most fans groaned at the very thought of it. Not only was Pouliot coming from the most hated of rivals in Montreal, but he was also a player who took runs at both Johnny Boychuk and David Krejci. A former top five draft choice, Benoit has never lived up to potential. A player with the gifted size, strength, and hands like Pouliot should have no problem translating junior leagues success to that of the NHL level.
Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli signed Pouliot to a one year deal worth $1.1 million on July 1st. This contract is the perfect example of a “low risk, high reward” deal, if Pouliot continues to struggle then he is either sent down or benched with little penalty, if he produces then it is worth it. As I mentioned already it no secret that Benoit has the tools to be successful at the NHL level. So far this season he has posted 4 goals, 1 assist, and a plus 4 in 22 games. While these numbers may not jump out at you, the one thing that may jump out is how much more comfortable he has looked as a player this season.
Under Claude Julien the level of play of which Pouliot is performing is impressive. Benoit is averaging roughly 12 minutes a game and has served as a physical presence, and agitator, and occasionally a solid offensive player. One aspect of his game that has stuck out to me repeatedly throughout the season is his stick positioning. If you watch closely you can always see Pouliot’s stick getting in the way of various passes and shots. While this will not show up on the scoreboard like a goal or an assist, its importance to the game is just as significant. Benoit is also a player who can throw a devastating body check here and there, this is yet another quality that helps his current line of Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly stay as dynamic as they are.
While he is not immune to taking a few awful penalties here and there, Pouliot is certainly a player who appears to be improving with every game he plays in a Bruins sweater. It also doesn’t hurt to play with two of the most versatile players in the NHL on his line. I believe Pouliot has a lot more to offer the Bruins and he will get his opportunities to prove just that. For me, Benoit’s most memorable moment as a Boston Bruin was his shootout game winner on November 23rd against the Buffalo Sabres which was arguably the Black and Gold’s most emotional win so far this season. It also doesn’t hurt that Pouliot has scored 3 game winning goals for the Bruins, proving that he has a little bit of that clutch style to his game.
He may not be a showstopper like Tyler Seguin or Brad Marchand, and he may not be a defensive force at forward like Patrice Bergeron or Chris Kelly, but he is a part of this team and his contributions are there all the same. Pouliot is turning out to be more then most Bruins fans expected, maybe he is beginning to turn his NHL struggles around. What better place to do that then in Boston?