Boston Bruins

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

Cassidy: Khudobin 'has a leg up' on backup competition in Bruins camp

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Cassidy: Khudobin 'has a leg up' on backup competition in Bruins camp

BOSTON – Fresh off a strong performance allowing just a single goal on 31 shots in his preseason debut, Tuukka Rask looked close to the top of his game and exactly where he needs to be with the regular season a couple of weeks away. Nearly as important as Rask’s state as the regular season nears, the Bruins coaching staff has been keeping a keen eye through camp on the all-important backup goaltender position as well. 

It’s important that the Bruins have a quality backup goalie in place as they hope to start Rask in just 55-60 games this season, and manage the slender puck-stopper in a way where they can get the best out of him from beginning to end. Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy indicated Anton Khudobin has the inside track on the backup job after finding his groove in the second half of last season, and it would appear he’s well on his way to retaining his job with a Malcolm Subban/Zane McIntyre tandem in Providence.

“Tuukka looks good, and looks good in practice and healthy. So that’s reassuring,” said Cassidy. “[Anton Khudobin] I thought played very well in his game. He had the one unfortunate goal, but I thought he was rock-solid the rest of the game. He’s in very good shape and he’s practiced well, so he’s got a leg up on the other [goalies] based on his experience.

“We know that going in, but he’s going to get pushed. Zane [McIntyre] was good in a game, and Malcolm let in a couple where he could have been more aggressive. But it was a first game, so right now they all look good. That’s a good problem to have if they all push each other, but to get direct to the point Anton has done nothing to lose that backup spot.”

At this point, it would likely be McIntyre rather than Subban that would challenge for the NHL backup job if Khudobin did stumble at all in training camp or early in the regular season as he did last year. There will be no backup controversy, however, if the 31-year-old plays like he did in stopping 20-of-22 shots in Tuesday night’s win vs. the Red Wings or as he did going 6-1-0 with a .922 save percentage after the All-Star break last season.  

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Morning Skate: Why NHL players hate analytics

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Morning Skate: Why NHL players hate analytics

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while already hating my fantasy football team just a couple of weeks into things.

*Interesting look at why NHL players hate analytics and why most of them don’t even care what Corsi is or how it’s tabulated.

*Interesting piece on the play-by-play for Bruins radio, where over 200 applicants threw their hat in the ring to replace Dave Goucher as the voice of the Bruins. FOH (Friend of Haggs) Ryan Johnston is one of the finalists and has great on the call on Tuesday night, so count me as rooting for him to wind up getting the gig he’s worked his whole life for.

*This is actually a fairly thoughtful and well-researched blog post on the Blackhawks logo and why it’s unfair to claim that it’s racist using the same arguments as for the Washington Redskins or the Cleveland Indians.

*It’s unfortunate, but an arena conflict between the Flames and the city of Calgary is the same kind of thing that’s forced franchises to move in other NHL cities.

*Good piece from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Craig Custance about Detroit Red Wings forward Tyler Sheahan and the bond he has with one Michigan family and one special little boy.

*Count the Winnipeg Jets among the teams that are going to have former NHL referees stop by training camp to give them the lowdown on slashing and face-offs. I think everybody understands the slashing enforcement, but this face-off stuff is ridiculous.

*For something completely different: I’ve enjoyed “Billy on the Street” while it’s been on TruTV, but it looks like it’s finding a new home soon.