Pouliot moved on since 'tough' departure from Boston

Pouliot moved on since 'tough' departure from Boston
February 21, 2013, 4:45 pm
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TAMPA – It should come as no surprise that Benoit Pouliot didn’t want to leave Boston at the end of last season.

The talented winger said he knew a few weeks prior to the NHL draft that he wouldn’t be returning to the Bruins, and he was disappointed he wouldn’t get a chance to build on the 16 goals and career-best 32 points he put up as a third-line skater last season. In essence he was traded for spare parts: a player that never logged a minute of ice time for the B’s organization (Michel Ouellet) and a fifth round pick they used on Seth Griffith.

“It’s always tough when you know you’re not coming back. It’s always tough especially when I had a pretty decent year for the role I was playing in,” said Pouliot. “It was hard. But at the same time I’m so happy and things are going well for me in Tampa. So I can’t complain.

“It will be the same as any other game for me. I played for [Boston] last year but I don’t want to think about it too much. I just want to keep playing the way I’ve been playing. I got in there right after they won the Cup, so it was a little overwhelming for me. But it was awesome. The guys took care of me very well and they really pushed me. The coaching staff pushed me. Seeing how they worked hard in practice and during the games was a great experience for me.”

While Pouliot said he would treat it like any other game, it’s instructive to look at the way he played against the Canadiens last season (two goals scored in five games against the Habs) while looking to prove a point.

But he’s certainly rebounded well as a member of the Tampa Bay Lighting after the draft weekend trade that sent him away from the Bruins. Pouliot has five goals and 13 points – a figure that would lead the Bruins currently – and has worked his way into a role skating on a top forward line with NHL household names Marty St. Louis and Vinny Lecavalier.

“It’s been nice. Things are going pretty good. I don’t want to get too high on myself, but things are rolling pretty nicely,” said Pouliot. “In the beginning it’s a learning process and you just need to figure out how things are going and how things work [in a new place]. Right now we’ve got some injuries and I’m getting a chance to play as a top-six forward.”

Pouliot’s former linemates in Boston have kept an eye on what he’s doing in Tampa Bay, and Chris Kelly has come away impressed.

Not surprised, but impressed.

“I never liked Benoit Pouliot much. I was happy to see him leave,” said Kelly, who was obviously joking about his former teammate. “I think he’s got way better linemates this year, eh? I thought it was tough for Benny at the start of last year because it was Stanley Cup this and Stanley Cup that. But I thought he handled himself extremely well.

“Once that passed I thought we built some good chemistry. He skates extremely well, he’s a big guy and he’s got great hands and a great shot. I’m happy to see him doing well. He’s a good person.”

One thing the 26-year-old winger won’t do is underestimate the Bruins team coming into the Tampa Times Forum. The Bruins have dropped to second in the Northeast Division and fifth in the Eastern Conference while playing the fewest number of games of any NHL team. They’ll be motivated to start picking up points and be looking to make a strong statement as they make their Florida swing.

How would Pouliot describe the Bruins after playing with them for a year?

“Big. Fast. Strong. They follow their game plan every game. They do the things that they’re told to do,” said Pouliot. “When they do that they’re a dangerous team. We know coming in here it’s going to be a good test. We want to compete against the best teams out there and Boston is one of them.”

It should be interesting to watch Pouliot skating around his home ice in Tampa on Thursday night perhaps showing everybody with the Bruins exactly what they’re missing.