It's "put up or shut up" time for Habs' Benoit Pouliot

benoitpouliot1.jpgWhen Benoit Pouliot was traded by the Minnesota Wild to the Montreal Canadiens for Guillaume Latendresse, it was viewed as a deal that sent team headaches going in each direction. For a while afterward, it looked like it was a great deal for both teams as the issues each player had in their old cities disappeared and they realized their potential.

For Benoit Pouliot, the hot start he had in Montreal disappeared and the final few weeks of the season and the playoffs looked like his old ways from Minnesota as an inconsistent performer returned. Despite all that, Pouliot got a raise from the Habs but as The Montreal Gazette’s Pat Hickey discusses, this could be Pouliot’s definitive season to show he can be an NHL star.

“It’s one year and you have to show what you have so you can get a longer deal,” Pouliot noted. “One year is not a lot but, on the other hand, it could be good for me. If I have a great year and we go far in the playoffs, it could pay off.”

Gionta said there’s no reason Pouliot shouldn’t develop into a solid top-six forward.

“You can see that he has the talent, it’s just a matter of confidence,” Gionta said. “So much of this game is mental.”

But Martin has made it clear he wants to see more from Pouliot. When he was asked where the Canadiens might have openings this season, he mentioned the left side and he wasn’t talking about Michael Cammalleri.

The Habs have more than a few players that can be plugged into coach Jacques Martin’s system if Pouliot doesn’t get his game together and play consistently better. Getting to play alongside Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta last season was a good way to get Pouliot to make better use of his size at forward rather than continuing to pretend that he’s simply a smooth-skating forward.

Somewhere along the way last season, that smart use of his size and ability to attack the net went away. Tapping into that mindset once again could help Pouliot be the guy that helps get guys like Gomez and Gionta room on the ice to create the offense the Habs are looking for and allow Pouliot to get to the net to wreak havoc.

Scroll Down For:

    Video: Canucks escape Arizona with another win for the moms

    at Pepsi Center on February 9, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.
    Getty Images
    1 Comment

    With their mothers traveling on the road trip — Matt Bartkowski‘s mom, Beth, has become a cult hero in Vancouver after another priceless media interview — the Canucks took back-to-back wins, moving them right back into the thick of the playoff fight in the Western Conference.

    After beating the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday, the Canucks held on for the 2-1 victory in Arizona on Wednesday, despite being without Brandon Sutter (broken jaw), Alex Edler (broken fibula) and Derek Dorsett, who was scratched from the lineup due to illness, as per Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy.

    It was only a few days ago, following a home loss to the Calgary Flames, that it felt like the Canucks’ playoff hopes were essentially dashed. They fielded their healthiest lineup in months and couldn’t score and couldn’t win.

    Two quick wins later, they’re two points out of a Wild Card spot in the West, despite getting outshot in Arizona.

    Up by a goal in the third period, defenseman Alex Biega played the hero, pulling the puck out of the crease after it got by Ryan Miller on a backhand shot from Kyle Chipchura, maintaining Vancouver’s lead.

    Phaneuf burned on Zetterberg game-winner in Sens debut

    Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 9.02.42 PM
    3 Comments

    A day after getting traded out of Toronto, Dion Phaneuf made his Ottawa Senators debut.

    It ended with a 3-1 road loss for the Senators, and Phaneuf getting burned by Henrik Zetterberg on the eventual game winner early in the third period.

    Zetterberg picked up the puck near the Ottawa blue line, beat Phaneuf to the outside, slipped the puck under the stick of the Sens’ newest blue liner and quickly roofed his shot on Craig Anderson.

    “He made a real good play and you’ve got to give credit when credit is due,” Phaneuf told the Ottawa Sun.

    “I put my stick there, he put (the puck) under and he made a good shot. I’ve got to have a better stick in that situation, but you’ve got to give him credit for that play.”

    Phaneuf finished the night with a minus-one rating and two hits in almost 22 minutes of ice time, putting him second among Sens defensemen in that category behind Erik Karlsson, who played a whopping 33:30.

    Phaneuf drilled Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser with a hard slap shot early in the third period.

    DeKeyser played one more shift — all of 10 seconds — before exiting the game.

    Video: Rangers shut out red-hot Sidney Crosby and the Penguins

    2 Comments

    The New York Rangers are likely too far behind the Washington Capitals to take any legitimate run at the Atlantic Division down the stretch.

    But winners now of four straight, the Rangers have opened up a bit of a gap between them and other Eastern Conference teams in the playoff race. New York scored a 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, winners in six of their last seven games, on Wednesday.

    In the process, they held a red-hot Sidney Crosby off the score sheet, which has been a difficult, sometimes impossible task for opposing teams since about the middle of December. He entered this game with a seven-game scoring streak.

    (In fact, New York held No. 87 to without a shot on goal in the entire game.)

    Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 34 shots he faced for the shutout.

    Kevin Hayes gave the Rangers the lead in the first period, before Dominic Moore and Jesper Fast put the game away in the third.

    Pittsburgh remains in the second Wild Card spot in the East. The Rangers now move three points clear of the rival Islanders for second in the Metropolitan.

    Video: Wideman hearing ‘a tricky case’ as NHLPA hopes to get 20-game suspension reduced

    Leave a comment

    There is no certain timeline for when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman might rule on Dennis Wideman‘s appeal, according to a report from hockey insider Darren Dreger on NBCSN, as the Calgary Flames defenseman hopes to get his 20-game ban for hitting linesman Don Henderson reduced.

    “Now, ultimately what they’re hoping from a Wideman perspective and the Players’ Association is that commissioner Gary Bettman will rule and he will reduce the number of games suspended down from 20,” said Dreger during a segment on NBCSN.

    “Is he going to reduce it by three games? Five games seems a bit of a stretch. And when might he do that? There’s no timeline on this.”