Pouliot bounces back after benching

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Pouliot bounces back after benching

BUFFALO - It seems like there will be extreme ebbs and flows to Benoit Pouliot's experience with the Boston Bruins.

One game after getting benched in the third period for taking several wild penalties at the Bell Centre in his first game back in Montreal against his former Canadiens team, Pouliot was back in the lineup Wednesday night against the Sabres. It was a bit of an eyebrow-raising decision by Claude Julien to go with Pouliot instead of rookie Jordan Caron, but it was also a clear show of faith in Pouliot.

"The benching wasn't about his performance. He was playing well in Montreal, but his emotions were getting the better of him," said Julien. "At that point he was becoming a little bit of a liability. So he went back in tonight. He's got a lot of skill and we've seen that in some of the shootouts in practice. This was nice, though, because maybe it gives him a little bit of confidence."

The faith was clearly rewarded when Pouliot played a solid game for the Bruins in Buffalo and supplied the shootout game-winner in a 4-3 victory in the fifth round of the shootout at the First Niagara Center. After watching offensive talents like Tyler Seguin and Patrice Bergeron come away empty attempting to attack the five-hole and lower half of Buffalo goalie Jhonas Enroth, Pouliot went upstairs with a straight wrist shot and hit the back of the net so hard that the puck immediately shot back out like it had slammed pipe instead of twine.

The shot was by design, and Pouliot celebrated with an extended fist pump as his teammates stormed the ice in celebration after the clinching shot.

"It was good. I wasn't too sure what I was going to do, but halfway through you could see him going lower," said Pouliot. "So I decided to go high. Everybody shot low and I decided to go high with it and it went in."

"So that was good. It was tough early in the game because we were in the box a lot and it wasn't our fault. But we turned things around."

Pouliot managed three shots on net during his 12 plus minutes of ice time and continued to build up confidence as a third line grinder capable of occasional offense, but he also took an elbowing penalty that's becoming a pattern. Either way, Pouliot said he appreciated the confidence shown in him by his coach, and was happy to reward him with a clinching shootout attempt that gives the Bruins 10 straight wins.

"Sometimes it's bad breaks and you feel like you let your team down a bit. But I got a chance tonight in the shootout. I wasn't sure what I would do, but it went pretty well. It's frustrating when you're in the box and your teammates are out there trying to kill it off," said Pouliot. "You're just stressed out and worried when you're in the box. But I've got to give credit to my teammates for picking me up, and now we move on."

Bruins don't poll well in latest New England Sports survey

Bruins don't poll well in latest New England Sports survey

It’s no secret Bruins fans are getting fed up with a hockey team in decline, one that’s missed the playoffs each of the last two years. Now there are numbers to prove it.

Channel Media and Market Research, Inc. came out with its annual New England Sports survey,  tabulating responses from over 14,600 polled, and, according to the numbers, the Bruins are dropping in popularity, fan support and faith in the current management group.

The B’s are holding somewhat steady with 16 percent of voters listing them as their “favorite sports team” behind the Patriots (46 percent) and Red Sox (29 percent) while ahead of the Celtics and Revolution. Claude Julien also ranked ahead of John Farrell among the big four teams in the “coaches/manages most admired” category.

But after sitting at a relative high of ranking at 27 percent for “ownership performance” in 2014 -- they year after their trip to the Cup Finals against the Blackhawks -- the Bruins now rank dead last in that category at 2 percent, behind the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics and even the Revolution. Ouch, babe.

Also sitting at a lowly 2 percent is Bruins president Cam Neely in the “leadership performance” category. In "management performance," Neely has dropped from a solid 49 percent in 2014 to just 16 percent in this summer’s survey.

So B’s fans are clearly upset with a team that traded away Tyler Seguin, Johnny Boychuk, Milan Lucic and Dougie Hamilton, and has featured a decimated defense corps for each of the last two seasons. But do the B’s fans think that things are getting any better with prospects coming down the pipeline?

Not really.

In the “which team has done the best job making its product better.” category, the Patriots (35 percent) and Red Sox (31 percent) were resting at the top, with the Celtics (27 percent) a respectable third. The Bruins limped in at just 4 percent with a fan base that very clearly sees that, on paper, this upcoming season’s club doesn’t appear to be much better than last year's.

On top of that, only 13 percent of those surveyed believe the Bruins have gotten better over the last year, and 52 percent believe they’ve just gotten worse. A lowly 3 percent of those surveyed think the Bruins have the best chance of the five teams to bring a world championship back to Boston; the Patriots (79 percent), Red Sox (11 percent) and Celtics (5 percent) all ranked higher.

Finally, Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask and Jimmy Hayes were at the top of the list of the Boston athletes “who did not meet expectations” last season. None of that is a surprise, given the state of Boston’s defense along with Hayes’ subpar season.

The good news for the Bruins: They still have a passionate fan base. But they need to start reversing course immediately before they do lasting damage to the B’s brand.

Wednesday, August 24: B's dealing with post-Vesey aftermath

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Wednesday, August 24: B's dealing with post-Vesey aftermath

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading with the Olympics coming to a close . . .
 
-- FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kirk Luedeke sorts through the aftermath for the Bruins after losing out on Jimmy Vesey

-- Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland gave an interview where he said the Red Wings aren’t Stanley Cup contenders this season. 

-- Related to Holland’s comments, some of the media in Detroit aren’t taking the dose of reality all that well

-- It’s a big season for New Jersey Devils forward Kyle Palmieri, who will be starring for Team USA on the World Cup team. 

 -- PHT writer Cam Tucker says the Buffalo Sabres still have a strong group of forwards even without Jimmy Vesey.

-- Jamie Benn is giving everything to his Dallas Stars team, and that means that the World Cup of Hockey is taking a backseat
 
-- The Colorado Avalanche are nearing the end of their head coaching search as they look for their replacement for Patrick Roy.
 
-- For something completely different: NBC is making the argument that millenials watched the Olympics, but just not on the traditional formats