Pouliot a reliable replacement for B's


Pouliot a reliable replacement for B's

BOSTON -- The next five games present quite a challenge for Benoit Pouliot.

The athletic, gritty winger has been elevated to Bostons top left wing position skating alongside Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin while Brad Marchand is serving out his five-game suspension. That means he's been thrust into a primo offensive spot where he can succeed offensively in a way that hasn't always been possible during his stints in Montreal and Minnesota. Pouliot matched a career-high with three assists while filling in for a flu-ridden Marchand during the Bs blowout victory over the Calgary Flames last week, and added a power play goal as an insurance marker in Bostons 5-3 decision over the Winnipeg Jets Tuesday night.

Its the perfect temporary promotion for Pouliot, who plays with some truly skilled offensive players while showing off his skating speed. His coach laughed at the notion that it's not always Gazelle-like, but Pouliot has an unconventional way of throwing off opponents with a forecheck attack that seems to be all gangly arms and legs.

Hes a good skater," said coach Claude Julien. "He doesnt always look elegant, I guess, but he can skate, and hes pretty shifty. Maybe because of the way he skates, hes hard to predict. He really is.

But he does a good job, like I keep saying about, on the forecheck. He comes at you, and you dont know what angle Pouliot is going to be coming at you, and hes got a good stick.

His speed is good, and obviously he scores a goal tonight because hes in front of the net, and hes not afraid to go to those areas. Hes got good size, hes got good speed, and, again, he doesnt seem to have any fear. The one thing I know is that he feels very comfortable with this group of guys, and that he knows everybodys got everybodys back, so wherever he has to go. I think hes developed that confidence as the team has moved on here this year.

Pouliot has a goal and four points in the last three games, and has fired off nine shots while making noise with a suffocating forecheck and tough physical play right on the edge. That sounds awfully Marchand-like when you think about it, doesn't it?While Marchand is an incredible top-line value out and will be missed during his five-game suspension, it would be short-sightedto overlook Pouliots offensive upsides and ability to create exotic-looking offensive rushes up and down the ice. Nobody would have ever thought Pouliot could effectively replace Marchand at the beginning of the season, but that's the evolution of the former Habs underachiever.

Pouliots speed, tenacity, force of will, willingness to play the body and partially out-of-control enthusiasm have allowed the energy line forward to step into Marchands shows rather easily while wreaking havoc in the attack zone. Theres only one Nose Face Killah, but Pouliot is doing a rather nice facsimilie ofthe resident 5-foot-9 rabble-rouser at a time when the Bruins could really use him.

Julien sidesteps job security question with "shock journalism" comment

Julien sidesteps job security question with "shock journalism" comment

BOSTON -- With three crushing losses in a row at a time when results are really all that matters, the Boston Bruins are reeling at the wrong time during the regular season. The B’s tried their best to win a game 0-0 with strong defense against a sleepy Chicago Blackhawks bunch on Friday night, but ultimately coughed up a Marian Hossa goal in the final minutes for a 1-0 regulation loss at TD Garden.

The defeat continued a swirl downward for the Black and Gold over the last week, and was a second straight shutout loss on home ice for the first time in almost 15 years. The losing stretch has also kicked up the chatter that Claude Julien is in trouble as head coach of the Bruins, and the hockey club’s underperformance up and down the lineup is ultimately going to cost the NHL’s longest tenured bench boss his job.

The Ottawa Senators have passed the Bruins in the Atlantic Division, and it’s only a matter of time before the Toronto Maple Leafs move by them as well with both Toronto and Ottawa holding six games in hand on Boston. Combine all of this with the B’s having missed the playoffs in each of the previous two seasons leading into this one, and it shouldn’t be at all surprising that Julien is squarely on the coaching hot seat.

The B’s bench boss was asked about his job security after the Chicago loss, and clearly didn’t appreciate the tough, but appropriate question.

“Well, I’m not into shock-journalism,” said Julien in a prideful tone. “So I’ll stay away from that question if you don’t mind.”

The Bruins posted their Saturday schedule shortly after Julien and the B’s players had addressed the media following the loss, and sure enough the embattled coach is scheduled to address the media post-practice as part of the regular practice day routine. So it doesn’t seem that a move with Julien is imminent this weekend despite another loss, but both the coach and the players know something is going to happen to shake things up with this team if they continue to struggle.

“Right now it’s a results based situation, so if you’re going to keep losing games then probably something’s going to happen,” said Torey Krug. “But right now we’re just pretty down emotionally after this game, so I don’t want to look at the big picture. I just [want to] focus on what’s going on in this room, and hopefully we can come back with a good effort the next game.”

A good effort might help Julien’s standing with the Bruins in the short term, but it’s impossible to imagine the B’s bench boss making it through the rest of the Bruins regular season given all of things working against him right now.