Haggerty: Pouliot seeks revenge against Habs

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Haggerty: Pouliot seeks revenge against Habs

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
MONTREAL Benoit Pouliot wont play in the Bell Centre tonight against the Canadiens, and he hasnt circled any dates on the hockey calendar.

But theres little doubt that the rangy 6-foot-3 forward wants a piece of the Habs after player and hockey club suffered through a messy breakup at the end of last season. Pouliot was scratched for the final handful of games in Montreals playoff series against the Bruins, and there wasnt even a whiff of interest from his Habs employer before he signed a deal with the Bruins.

Thats left a distinct impression on a player in Pouliot who seems to up his game when he feels like hes got something to prove. He knows that hell be playing the Canadiens six times during the regular season, and there exist plenty of chances to right the wrongs in his mind.

When you get let go by a team, you want to prove to them that they shouldnt have, said Pouliot, who looked comfortable in Sunday nights game in Halifax skating with Zach Hamill and Brad Marchand. Hopefully well be playing them enough this year so I can make sure that I do that. So we should be good.

Pouliot has been lauded by Claude Julien for providing a physical element to the forward lines, and has consistently remarked that the Bs coaches felt he was the most consistently physical winger among the Habs forwards they faced last season. Just ask Johnny Boychuk, who was hit with the flying elbow off the top turnbuckle that launched NESNs Jack Edwards into his chump tirade.

Pouliot, Jordan Caron and Chris Clark appear to be in competition for two spots on the Bs final roster, but the ex-Habs and ex-Wild forward seems to have at least an inside track on one of those two jobs. How he will fit into the Bs roster puzzle remains largely unknown, but it should be interesting watching Pouliot try to put it all together as a 24-year-old with all the talent and tools in the world.

Pouliot is doing and saying all the right things, and hoping to stay out of the coachs dog house that seemed to be his permanent residence with Jacques Martin at the Bell Centre. The Bs are hoping to tap into his underachieving tendencies as they did with Nathan Horton last season, and perhaps reap more than the 15 goals scored hes averaged over the last two years with the Habs.

Its always a little different when youre on the other side. But, hey, Im a Bruin now and Im very happy. You know what? Ive worked hard all summer, Im having a good camp and done everything that the coaches want me to do, said Pouliot. Obviously its a big rivalry and I heard about it all summer after signing in Boston because I live in Montreal during the summer.

Pouliot is hoping to be able to return the chirping favor to his friends and neighbors in Montreal next summer. More importantly, hes hoping to get his career back on track just as Horton did during a career-altering season with the Bruins.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Morning Skate: Do Caps have mental block come playoff time?

Morning Skate: Do Caps have mental block come playoff time?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while thinking about and praying for the people of Manchester, England. It’s obviously an evil, cowardly act to bomb any public place, but to do it at a concert filled with women and children is the lowest of the low.

*The Capitals players are acknowledging that there’s some kind of mental block with the Stanley Cup playoffs. CSN Mid-Atlantic has all the details.

*It’s been a very odd postseason for the NHL where there are so many non-traditional teams still alive with the Nashville Predators in the Stanley Cup Fina, and the Ottawa Senators fighting for their lives in the Eastern Conference Final. On that note, there is a ton of disappointment at the empty seats at the Canadian Tire Centre for Ottawa’s home games in the playoffs. It sounds like there are going to be empty seats tonight for a do-or-die Game 6 in Ottawa. That is an embarrassment for a Canadian city that’s supposed to pride itself on their love of hockey. Let’s hope the Senators fans have a last-minute surge to buy tickets and show some appreciation for a Senators team that’s given the Ottawa fans a totally unexpected ride through the postseason this spring. I mean, Erik Karlsson at the top of his game is worth the price of admission all by himself.  

*The Pittsburgh Penguins have the Senators on the ropes, and it’s been an impressive showing given that they’re doing it without Kris Letang.

*Pro Hockey Talk has the ownership for the St. Louis Blues giving their GM Doug Armstrong a vote of confidence.

*Another early exit from the playoffs is going to start making some players expendable on the New York Rangers roster.

*Here’s a good piece on how David Poile built the Nashville Predators, who have reached the Stanley Cup Final for the first time. Give credit where it’s due: He manned up and made a big move dealing away Shea Weber straight up for PK Subban. It’s really worked for Music City as they’ve stepped to the next level.

*Speaking of Nashville’s rise this spring in a wide open Western Conference, Pekka Rinne has silenced the critics he might have had by carrying his team to the Cup Final.

*For something completely different: Boston law enforcement is on high alert after the bombing of the Ariana Grande concert in the UK.

 

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Hindsight is always 20/20, of course, but it appears the Bruins made a mistake buying out veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg from the final couple of years of his contract. 

Seidenberg just finished up a wildly successful stint with host Team Germany at the IIHF World Championships, where he was named Directorate Best Defenseman (the tournament’s best defenseman) after leading all D-men with a goal and eight points. This came after Seidenberg, at age 35, posted 5 goals and 22 points in 73 games for the Islanders, with whom he signed after being cut loose by the B's, while averaging a shade under 20 minutes per game.  Seidenberg also had an excellent World Cup of Hockey tournament for Team Europe last summer (where he was teamed once again with Zdeno Chara), thus managing to play at a high level from September all the way through May.

A faction of Bruins fans thought he was on the serious decline after the 2015-16 season and, clearly, the Bruins agreed, opting to buy him out with two more years still left on a sizable contract extension. (They owe him $2.16 million next season and then will be charged $1.16 million on their salary cap over the next two seasons.) But the B's could have used a durable, defensive warrior like Seidenberg in the playoffs, when they lost three of their top four defensemen against the Ottawa Senators. A rejuvenated Seidenberg, able to play both the left and right side, would have been a better option than Colin Miller.

The Bruins made a conscious decision to hand things over to younger defensemen like Miller, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo and Joe Morrow in cutting ties with Seidenberg. But they also perhaps miscalculated how much Seidenberg still had left in the tank after his best season in at least three years. 

“Well, at the time we felt like [Seidenberg's] game had really dropped off to where we thought he couldn’t contribute, and we wanted to see if some younger players could come in and help us out,” Bruins president Cam Neely said at the end-of-the-season press conference earlier this month. “I’ve got to say he played well this year for Long Island. But at the time we thought it was the right move. You can’t envision us having three of our top four D’s get hurt [in the playoffs]. We went through a lot of D’s in the postseason. You can’t predict that.”

Neely is referring to the decision made after Seidenberg’s second straight minus season in Boston, when back injuries and a major knee injury had seemed to slow him down a bit. It seemed the only way to properly evaluate some of their other, younger defenseman was to cut Seidenberg loose, but one has to wonder if the Bruins would have possibly done it had they known he was still capable of playing like he did this season for the Islanders. 

Either way, the buyout of Seidenberg is an extremely legitimate second guess of Bruins management in a year where they did a lot of things right.