Pouliot bounces back after benching

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Pouliot bounces back after benching

BUFFALO - It seems like there will be extreme ebbs and flows to Benoit Pouliot's experience with the Boston Bruins.

One game after getting benched in the third period for taking several wild penalties at the Bell Centre in his first game back in Montreal against his former Canadiens team, Pouliot was back in the lineup Wednesday night against the Sabres. It was a bit of an eyebrow-raising decision by Claude Julien to go with Pouliot instead of rookie Jordan Caron, but it was also a clear show of faith in Pouliot.

"The benching wasn't about his performance. He was playing well in Montreal, but his emotions were getting the better of him," said Julien. "At that point he was becoming a little bit of a liability. So he went back in tonight. He's got a lot of skill and we've seen that in some of the shootouts in practice. This was nice, though, because maybe it gives him a little bit of confidence."

The faith was clearly rewarded when Pouliot played a solid game for the Bruins in Buffalo and supplied the shootout game-winner in a 4-3 victory in the fifth round of the shootout at the First Niagara Center. After watching offensive talents like Tyler Seguin and Patrice Bergeron come away empty attempting to attack the five-hole and lower half of Buffalo goalie Jhonas Enroth, Pouliot went upstairs with a straight wrist shot and hit the back of the net so hard that the puck immediately shot back out like it had slammed pipe instead of twine.

The shot was by design, and Pouliot celebrated with an extended fist pump as his teammates stormed the ice in celebration after the clinching shot.

"It was good. I wasn't too sure what I was going to do, but halfway through you could see him going lower," said Pouliot. "So I decided to go high. Everybody shot low and I decided to go high with it and it went in."

"So that was good. It was tough early in the game because we were in the box a lot and it wasn't our fault. But we turned things around."

Pouliot managed three shots on net during his 12 plus minutes of ice time and continued to build up confidence as a third line grinder capable of occasional offense, but he also took an elbowing penalty that's becoming a pattern. Either way, Pouliot said he appreciated the confidence shown in him by his coach, and was happy to reward him with a clinching shootout attempt that gives the Bruins 10 straight wins.

"Sometimes it's bad breaks and you feel like you let your team down a bit. But I got a chance tonight in the shootout. I wasn't sure what I would do, but it went pretty well. It's frustrating when you're in the box and your teammates are out there trying to kill it off," said Pouliot. "You're just stressed out and worried when you're in the box. But I've got to give credit to my teammates for picking me up, and now we move on."

Morning Skate: Sabres' Okposo back on the ice

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Morning Skate: Sabres' Okposo back on the ice

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while officially in the Dead Zone of the NHL offseason.

*A great sight to see is Buffalo Sabres forward Kyle Okposo taking the ice in a summer league in Minnesota after a health scare at the end of last season.

*Nolan Patrick might be fresh off abdominal surgery, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to be rushed if he plays for the Flyers.

*Here’s an offseason power ranking of the offseason moves for the NHL teams, and the Bruins rank 28th out of 31 teams with the organization being “stuck” in the estimation of this writer. I don’t disagree that they’re kind of paralyzed right now until David Pastrnak signs an extension, with other things being held up because of that. The Paul Postma and Kenny Agostino signings were about as small time as you can get on July 1. But the Bruins’ goal for this summer wasn’t to win in the offseason moves department, but instead continue to let their interesting mix of young players and established veterans grow into an effective mix. Winning the offseason power rankings really isn’t the thing for the Black and Gold, and that’s perfectly okay given their situation.

*There’s a wide gap between the Detroit Red Wings and Tomas Tatar with salary arbitration looming.

*It’s a good thing that Barstool Sports is here to ask the really tough questions, like whether Jaromir Jagr is being treated unfairly by NHL teams because of his hair.

*PHT writer James O’Brien has Johnny Gaudreau really high on the window for the Calgary Flames to compete over the next three years with the young, talented group they have in place.  

*Nico Hischier is looking to be a playmaking force for the New Jersey Devils right off the bat after being the No. 1 overall pick in Jersey.

*A slew of soon-to-be college sophomores starred in development camps across the NHL and showed what they learned at the NCAA level.

*Classy tweet from the Arizona Coyotes wishing war hero and distinguished statesman John McCain well in his battle with brain cancer.

*Players that are on AHL contracts will be allowed to participate in the Winter Olympics this season. While the loss of NHL participation would be a difficult blow to the Olympics and fans, part of me is happy that some of these AHL guys will get to experience playing for their country when they might not have been able to otherwise.  

*For something completely different: Paul Pierce sees some very good things with first-round pick Jayson Tatum, but he’ll need to see “killer instinct” from the Celtics rookie for him to live up to the Pierce comparisons.

 

AHL allowing players on minor-league deals to go to Olympics

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AHL allowing players on minor-league deals to go to Olympics

Players on American Hockey League contracts will be eligible to play in the 2018 Winter Olympics.

President and CEO David Andrews confirmed through a league spokesman Wednesday that teams were informed they could loan players on AHL contracts to national teams for the purposes of participating in the Pyeongchang Olympics.

The AHL sent a memo to its 30 clubs saying players could only be loaned for Olympic participation from Feb. 5-26.

The Olympic men's hockey tournament runs from Feb. 9-25. Like the NHL, which is not having its players participate for the first time since 1994, the AHL does not have an Olympic break in its schedule.

The AHL's decision does not affect players assigned to that league on NHL one- or two-way contracts. No final decision has been made about those players.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly denied a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation report that the league had told its 31 teams that AHL players could be loaned to play in the Olympics. It was an AHL memo sent at the direction of that league's board of governors.

When the NHL announced in April that it wouldn't be sending players to South Korea after participating in five consecutive Olympics, Andrews said the AHL was prepared for Canada, the United States and other national federations to request players.

"I would guess we're going to lose a fair number of players," Andrews said in April. "Not just to Canada and the U.S., but we're going to lose some players to other teams, as well. But we're used to that. Every team in our league has usually got two or three guys who are on recalls to the NHL, so it's not going to really change our competitive integrity or anything else."

The U.S. and Canada are expected to rely heavily on players in European professional leagues and college and major junior hockey to fill out Olympic rosters without NHL players.