Boston Bruins

Pouliot puts himself on the map

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Pouliot puts himself on the map

It wasnt a game-winning goal thats become something ofa calling card for Benoit Pouliot, but it was a breath-taker and heart-stopper.

Pouliot was a highlight reel part of Bostons four-goal outburst in the first period when he embarked on a dazzlingone-man rush up the ice that ended with what many aremurmuring about as an early candidate for the Goal of the Year. The goal itself was the third straight game the former Montreal Canadiens forward had scored a goal for Boston, and helped push the Bruins to an 8-0 thumping of the Florida Panthers at the Garden.

Pouliot raced off with the puck off a face-off during four-on-four play in the first period, faked like he was going todrivethe puck outside of Dmitry Kulikov. Showing off the kind of wheels that once made him afirstround lottery pick in Minnesota, Pouliotthen cut inward toward the net. But here's best part: Pouliot dangled the biscuit between his legs and then back outin front of him as he sped on by the spellboundFlorida defender.

With Kulikov properly undressed by the between-the-legs one-on-one move, Pouliot turned to the backhand and flipped the shot past Jose Theodore as he tumbled to the iceto give the Bruins a three-goal lead. It was a play made possible by the daddy long legs reach of the long-limbed Pouliot, and a display of elite hand-eye coordination before the excellent finish as his body spilled forward.

Filthy, dirty, nasty and any other adjective did an admirable job of capturing Pouliots memorable rush up the ice. "That was obviously a highlight goal, and pretty nice to watch when you look at the replay. I was happy for him. I think the whole team on the bench was really happy for him," said Claude Julien. "Hes a good teammate and a good person. Hes kind of paid his dues early in the season where he was trying to fit in, and now hes got himself in a position where he doesnt want to let it go."

Pouliot sported asheepish, knowinggrin after the game, and admitted that goal would probably earn the highest marks for beauty of anyhes scored in his NHL career. Otherwise it was a quiet production night for Pouliot with three shots on net and the goal in 14:59 of ice time, but it was clear to his teammates the third line winger was moving at top gear in an important Eastern Conference game.

I had a good jump off the draw and the puck kind of went right to me. I think the defense was kind of thinking I would go wide on the attack, said Pouliot. Thats what I was thinking too because I had good speed right off the bat.

But when I got there I kind of faked him out a little bit and brought it back to the net a little and it went in. I dont know. I was just trying to put the puck on net. I think the guys liked it. I liked it. I loved it. Its always nice scoring and its something I want to do all the time. Obviously you cant score every game, but right now its going well for me.

It was also part of a Bs special teams' outburst that saw then end the first 20 minutes with a short-handed goal, a power play strike and a pair of four-on-four tallies where Boston hadnt had any going into Friday nights game.

But all anybody would talk about after Friday nights win was A) a hat trick for Marchand and B) Pouliots blend of speed, hands and a filthy little finish with his backhanded bid.

He's a talented player: he's got great range and great reach. So I think he used that there in that instance while almost pulling and dragging that puck and fooling the defenseman, said Gregory Campbell of Pouliot. He had the poise to hold on to that puck. A lot of guys try that move and they're not able to stick with it. He stuck with it.

Pouliot stuck with it in Boston through some difficult adjustment times earlier this season, and now the Bruins and the highlight reels are reaping the between-the-legsbenefits.

Marchand stepping up his twitter game to hilarious effect

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Marchand stepping up his twitter game to hilarious effect

BOSTON – It was probably only a matter of time before it happened, but it looks like Boston’s favorite Little Ball of Hate is stepping up his game on social media.

Brad Marchand is known as much for his rabble-rousing and trash-talking on the ice as he is for massive offensive production while serving as Boston’s top scorer in each of the last few seasons. So Marchand has the perfect mixture of good humor and clout as a star NHL player, and that usually combines for a pretty powerful voice on Twitter.

Marchand has been noticeably more active on Twitter in recent days with a wide-ranging group of tweets, and the big winner is the hockey fan that gets a little more exposure to some classic Nose Face Killah wit. Some of the tweets have been as a Bruins team leader where he’s praising the talented young crop of B’s prospects that he’s watching during training camp:

Some have been about chirping the NHL for their decision to skip the Olympics this winter where Marchand most certainly would have been primed for a chance at a Gold Medal:

Some have been engaging with “fans” and dropping classic pop culture references from children’s books while showing the nasty edge that routinely drives opponents up a wall:

The Charlotte’s Web reference is a devastating classic from Marchand, a noted longtime fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Sometimes it’s just telling a quick story in a tweet that gives you an inside look at the kind of chirping that goes on when Marchand is on the ice:

A social media platform like Twitter was made for a personality like Marchand, and a stepped-up presence is good for him and good for hockey fans. So why all of a sudden is No. 63 tweeting with greater frequency over the last few days?

It sounds like it’s a combination of training camp boredom and a genuine interest in amplifying his voice on all manner of subjects.

“I’ve just been kind of lying around with nothing to do and I jumped on [twitter]…thought it was kind of funny,” said Marchand. “I thought I’d get a little more involved. I don’t know if I’m going to have enough time to do it every day, but it’s fun.”

As fun as it’s been for Marchand, it’s no doubt even more fun for the fans that might get a chance to interact with him even if it’s as the unwitting foil for one of his well-placed chirps. 

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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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