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.