Benoit Pouliot had quite the reputation preceding him when he arrived in Boston this summer.
He had worn the Blue, Blanc and Rouge of the Montreal Canadiens for the two years prior, and hed nearly taken Johnny Boychuks head off with a flying elbow during last years first round of the playoffs. He even had the hometown TV broadcasters call him one of the biggest busts in NHL history in a fit of pique, but Pouliot never truly struck back or let people see him sweat.
Instead Pouliot went about his business while attempting to build up a strong reputation with the Black and Gold, and hes still standing heading into the playoffs. Pouliot finished the regular season one shy of his career high in goals (16), and he set a new career-high with 32 points.
Theres been a lot of positive stuff. There have been some ups and downs, but a lot more ups. I feel like my confidence is pretty good right now, said the 25-year-old Pouliot, who finished with two goals in his last three games to close out the season. For me it was about learning what was going on down here. The winning streak helped me feel comfortable early on in the season, and allowing me to stay put on the third line has let me get a good feeling with the guys that Im playing with.
It wasnt the most consistent season as Pouliot rode some extreme highs and lows with some very timely, game-winning goals mixed in, but Claude Julien said that the lanky forward finally achieved some consistency over the final five weeks of the season. His forward pairing with Brian Rolston and Chris Kelly has turned the Bs third line into a dangerous combination that give the Bruins three legitimate threats among their forward lines headed into the playoffs.
Hes got 16 goals, right? I think we kind of anticipated thats what he was going to be giving us between that and 20. There were some ups-and-downs in his season, but typically I find that in the last while, hes been the player we were expecting him to be, said Claude Julien. Theres a better stability in his game and theres a consistency that goes with it. Hes played well, that lines played well and you know, so its been refreshing to see that.
We knew the one thing that he wanted to work on was consistency. He is capable of playing well, and theres some spurts where he wasnt as efficient as we knew he could be. But that part of his game has improved. I think hes matured in that area and we got a lot out of him.
So much so that perhaps Pouliot will be returning to the Bruins fold next season as he enters restricted free agency following the season. But that will be up to Pouliot if he can show his consistency and his penchant for creating highlight reel goals once the postseason begins on Thursday night.