Pouliot steps in and steps up

Pouliot steps in and steps up
January 6, 2012, 1:27 pm
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BOSTON -- One wouldnt blame Brad Marchand if he got a little uneasy watching how smoothly Benoit Pouliot filled in for him on a sick dayWednesday night.
Bostons favorite agitator missed the game because of flu-like symptoms and Pouliot was called onto play with Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin against awoebegone Flames unit, and the results were stunning.
All he did was match a career-high with three assists as he melded smoothly inwith Bergeron and Seguin forthe Bruins' 9-0 win that didn't mess a beat from their run of blowout victories in the last nine games. One of Marchand's linemates sensed their partner might be getting a little antsy, and planned to send out an encouraging message.I was talking to Bergy and we said we were going to send Marchand a text at the same time saying, 'We still miss you . . . ' " said Seguin before busting into laughter. I thought Pouliot did do a great job. Hes fast, obviously. Its hard to replace a guy like Marchand, but I thought he stepped up his game for sure.The onslaught started early. The trio posted its first goal just 74 seconds into the game, and that ignitedthe Bruins' rout. Pouliot notchedan assist on that goal, which was scored by Seguin, and added two more to match a single-game career high of three points amassed last season as a member of the Montreal Canadiens against the Minnesota Wild, the team that originally drafted him as a high lottery in 2005.Playing with high-end talents like Bergeron and Seguin gave Pouliot the kind of skilled linemates who can properly utilize his speed.Anyone watching the B's has witnessed Pouliot's elite size, speed and skill package when they all work together for highlight reelgoals. In fact, Pouliot may be moving up and down the lineup at any number of different spots as vacancies open because of injuries or illness, and he's proven wholly capable thus far this season. His coach gave a big thumbs up for a job well done after the game. That's exactly what good teams do: have players step up when others are injured or otherwise incapacitated. I thought Pouliotplayed a good game tonight," said coach Claude Julien. "He was really strong on the puck he made some good plays and he just continues to get better. I think confidence is a big factor when it comes to that, and hes feeling more comfortable with our hockey club.Poliot's performance illustrates the depth Boston enjoys along its front lines. Lose one of the teams top scorers and antagonists in Marchand, and simply plug the talented (if erratic) Pouliot into the lineup while watching closely for behavior that can sometimes cross the line. It was all good in the hood for Pouliot against the Flames. "It was awesome. It feels like theyre always at the right spot at the right time," said Pouliot of skating with Bergeron and Seguin while they accounted for nine points, a plus-9 and 12 shots on net in victory. "Theyre good skaters, good with the puck and they play hard on both ends of the ice. So, my job is just to fill in and try to help them out as much as I can and try to do what Marchy Marchand does. Things worked out."The 10-minute misconduct Pouliotreceived for mouthing off to a ref in New Jersey Wednesday night is the clear, undisciplineddownside to Pouliot's game. But those moments are becoming increasingly rare and were nowhere to be seen in a big moment stepping up for Marchand. And the Bruins hope moments like Thursday's become increasingly common for a player showing his talent in Boston.