Benoit Pouliot

Can Benoit Pouliot redeem himself in Boston?

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Benoit Pouliot is one of the more intriguing players of the last few years. He’s a former first round pick of the Minnesota Wild back in 2005, fourth overall. He’s also one of the most disappointing first round picks of recent memory. After three massively disappointing seasons with the Wild, he was traded to Montreal for Guillaume Latendresse in November 2009 and after a hot start in Montreal, things turned south for Pouliot again.

Pouliot’s legacy with the Wild is one as a total bust but his two more memorable moments in Montreal comes thanks to the Boston Bruins. During a regular season game he dropped the gloves with, of all people, David Krejci but his “biggest” moment came during the playoffs.

During Game 3 of their first round series, NESN’s Jack Edwards verbally destroyed Pouliot after he left his feet to try and hit Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk, missing his head. Andrew Ference took exception to Pouliot picking a fight with him giving Edwards all the time needed to berate Pouliot for his sub-par career. Edwards called Pouliot a “chump” and “one of the greatest disappointments of talent in National Hockey League history.”

While that’s a bit of hyperbole, it’s not far from the mark. Through 183 career games Pouliot had 37 goals and 35 assists while averaging just 12:30 of ice time in his career. For a guy taken fourth overall, that’s miserable.

Now Pouliot is hoping to spark his career in, of all places, Boston. The Bruins signed Pouliot this summer to a one-year deal hoping he can plug in and provide some offense and use his 6’3″ 200 pound frame the right way and be a physical offensive force on the ice. For Pouliot, he’s hoping Bruins coach Claude Julien can help him tap into the talent it’s believed he has.

CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty catches up with the Bruins’ “chump” for hire.

“[A new start] is always fun. I think my fresh start in Montreal went really good. My two years were definitely good and a lot more positive than negative,” said Pouliot. “Maybe there was a little bit of a slip there at the end. Coming to a new team you’ve got to earn the trust of the players and the coaches, and you’ve really got to just go out and do your own thing.

“It’s a business. Things happen. I’ve just got to play the way that I’m capable of. I’ve got a couple of strengths for shooting and skating, and I’m a pretty big guy. I can go into the corners very easily.”

So what went wrong in Montreal?

“I don’t know. I think there was a little bit of a lack of trust there between me and the coach . . . maybe in the end,” said Pouliot. “When I first got there things were going well and he was playing me 16 or 17 minutes a game, but things went downhill after that. Last year I had a good year on the third and fourth line and played a full season. So that was good.”

If Pouliot can learn from his days as a third and fourth liner and also take home the lessons learned from two failed stints in the NHL, he can make the most of it. Pouliot is still just 24 years-old and in Boston he’s joining a team where he’s the sole new guy in town. If seizing the opportunity and getting the opportunity to stick it to his old team isn’t motivation enough for Pouliot to figure it all out, perhaps it’s time to start believing more of what Jack Edwards has to say about him and help buy into the hyperbole.

Lonnie Cameron, hockey-tough linesman, shakes off puck to head (Video)

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Talking about hockey toughness is pretty much a trope at this point, yet there are still moments that impress even the cynical among us.

Linesman Lonnie Cameron accomplished that for many on Tuesday, as he returned to the Nashville Predators – Vancouver Canucks game despite taking a puck to the head in a scary moment.

Judging by the Twitter feed of Brooks Bratten from the Predators’ website, Cameron missed mere minutes of time.

So, yeah, it seems like Cameron qualifies as “hockey tough.”

As far as the game itself went, the Canucks beat the Predators 1-0 thanks to Henrik Sedin‘s goal (his 999th point) and Ryan Miller‘s 30-save shutout.

Is this more than just a slump for Henrik Lundqvist?

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People have been wondering for years if Henrik Lundqvist would finally fall off track and, you know, look human. After the New York Rangers’ zany 7-6 loss to the Dallas Stars, those rumblings are probably getting a little louder.

Don’t expect the Rangers to throw their star goalie under the bus, though, especially after a wide-open game like Tuesday’s goal-filled game at Madison Square Garden.

In fact, Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault is already penciling Lundqvist in for Thursday’s game against the rising Toronto Maple Leafs.

“He’s going to play, he’s going to try real hard, and we’re going to try to play better in front of him,” Vigneault said, according to the New York Post’s Brett Cyrgalis. “This is a team.”

Lundqvist, meanwhile, said about what you’d expect:

Naturally, Lundqvist and plenty of other Rangers threw the word embarrassing around quite a bit to describe this game, or at least the first 40 minutes. It’s just that no one’s really raking Lundqvist over the coals.

Is this time different?

Again, Lundqvist is no stranger to struggles, even if he struggles less often than just about any franchise goalie in recent memory.

Still, the sample size is getting large enough for this stretch to be a concern for the 34-year-old netminder.

While goal support and stretches of good play open the door for a respectable 18-12-1 record, Lundqvist’s allowing almost three goals per game (2.89 GAA) and has a backup-level .902 save percentage this season. And that’s over 32 games.

Things get even uglier if you focus on more recent events.

He’s allowed 20 goals in his past four starts, including allowing 12 tallies over four periods during the past two games. Lundqvist has a putrid .841 save percentage in January after producing great work in November (.925 save percentage in 11 games) and nice numbers in December (.915 in eight games).

Lundqvist has given up four goals or more on nine different occasions since Nov. 23.

In other words, there are a lot of different ways in which he’s struggling:

Is this a matter of Lundqvist regaining his focus or is “The King” finally abdicating his throne?

The Rangers are going to let him try to work through this. Otherwise, they might just need to hope that this is an off-year and *gulp* at least consider how far (an eventually healthy?) Antti Raanta could take them.

Supporting cast rallies Blackhawks in win against Avalanche

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For much of the season, the Colorado Avalanche’s biggest names have let them down while many believe that the Chicago Blackhawks are getting it done despite a mediocre supporting cast.

On Tuesday, the script was essentially flipped. The Avs’ stars were productive, yet so were lesser-known Chicago forwards like Tanner Kero and Vinne Hinostroza.

The most important narrative stayed the same, however, as the Blackhawks found a way to get by the Avalanche in a 6-4 decision.

The Blackhawks took a 2-1 lead into the second period, but the Avs put together one of their best stretches of this lousy season. Blake Comeau tied it up, Matt Nieto scored his first goal with Colorado and then Matt Duchene answered Chicago’s only goal of the second period (by Kero) to give the Avalanche a 4-3 edge.

The Avalanche doubled Chicago’s shots on goal in the second period, generating an 8-4 edge. It felt like a rare moment where Colorado’s talent actually flexed its collective muscles.

Then the Blackhawks turned it on in the third, generating a 12-5 shot edge of their own and finding a way to win.

Hinostroza ended up making the biggest difference, scoring the tying and game-winning goals before Kero iced it with an empty-netter thanks to an unselfish pass by Jonathan Toews.

(It’s not to say that Chicago’s big names outright slept through this game, either. Toews got that assist and Marian Hossa made a bunch of plays to help make life easier for Hinostroza and Kero.)

This wasn’t always pretty, but the Blackhawks are doing enough to get points night after night. On some nights, that’s the real difference between a contender like Chicago and a languishing squad like Colorado.

Blue Jackets move back to first in Metro, NHL after beating Hurricanes

COLUMBUS, OH - JANUARY 7:  Sergei Bobrovsky #72 of the Columbus Blue Jackets warms up prior to the start of the game against the New York Rangers on January 7, 2017 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
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After stumbling for a bit, Tuesday was a reassuring night for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

With a 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus moved back to the top of the Metropolitan Division (and thus, the NHL) because they now match the Washington Capitals’ 64 points but have more wins (30 to 29) and hold a game in hand.

Also comforting for Columbus: Sergei Bobrovsky returned to the Blue Jackets net, allowing one goal on 25 shots.

They were probably also happy to see Brandon Dubinsky enjoy a strong night (two goals) and Boone Jenner collect an assist and this absolute beauty of a goal:

The Hurricanes actually did hold a 1-0 lead in this game, but it lasted all of 11 seconds, as that Jenner goal erased that advantage.

The Blue Jackets face the Senators in Columbus on Thursday and then host the Hurricanes once again on Saturday. They follow that up with five straight road games and six of seven away from home beginning on Jan. 22. Columbus will pass another big test if they can stick with the Capitals and the rest of the NHL’s best through that stretch.