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.

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    Blues’ Shattenkirk suffers lower-body injury

    Kevin Shattenkirk
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    This hasn’t been the best night for St. Louis sports fans.

    Obviously, the MLB’s Cardinals getting bounced from the playoffs is a bigger deal, but the Blues face bad news, too.

    While they’re currently leading the Calgary Flames by a score of 4-3, they’ll need to hang on without Kevin Shattenkirk, whose night is over thanks to a lower-body injury.

    There’s no word yet on how severe the issue might be.

    Naturally, the Blues must hope that it’s minor, as Shattenkirk is one of the NHL’s truly underrated assets on the blueline.

    Stephanie (@MyRegularFace) tracked down a moment when the injury may have happened:

    It’s not all rosy for the Flames, either, as Lance Bouma suffered an injury as well.

    Measure of revenge? Red Wings bottle Lightning


    In some ways, it really felt like their first-round series.

    For all the talent on both ends of the rink with the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning, each squad can really smother opponents defensively when things go that way.

    Through two periods, the two teams were very quiet. Things really picked up when Justin Abdelkader unleashed a big hit, a moment that injected enough life into the proceedings for the Red Wings to eventually build a 3-1 win.

    Maybe they’re slipping under the radar a bit compared to previous iterations of the team, but it’s interesting that the Red Wings are now undefeated in three games.

    They’ve been impressive at times, too, outscoring opponents by a combined score of 11-4.

    Call it a refreshing time after Mike Babcock or merely carryover from a subtly solid run last season, but either way, the Red Wings may just be able to keep up their end of a brewing rivalry.