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.

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. 
 

Monday, May 22: Senators all out of playoff magic?

Monday, May 22: Senators all out of playoff magic?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while feeling like we’ll be getting a Pittsburgh/Nashville Stanley Cup Final, which I suppose would be the best possible outcome at this point.

*You hear the name and it just gets you angry all over again if you grew up watching the Bruins. Ulf Samuelsson is in the running for an assistant coaching job with the Chicago Blackhawks, according to a report.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Chris Johnston says it appears that the time is running out on a Cinderella season for the Ottawa Senators.

*A taste of winning at the world championships with Team Sweden could fuel Alex Edler’s desire for a change from the rebuilding Vancouver Canucks.

*Interesting piece on a former can’t miss goaltending prospect with the Nashville Predators that ended up totally missing, and what he’s been up to in life since then.

*Guy Boucher explains to Pro Hockey Talk why he kept changing goaltenders in the Game 5 blowout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

*Don Cherry explains that he hates afternoon hockey during his Coach’s Corner from Hockey Night in Canada in the Game 5 blowout between the Penguins and Predators.

*A good piece from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Alex Prewitt on the Nashville Predators, and the evolution of the franchise into a team on the verge of a Stanley Cup Final appearance.

*For something completely different: What a win by the Boston Celtics in Game 3 in Cleveland, and quite an interesting, fired up interview with Al Horford afterward.