Pouliot finally showing some consistency

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Pouliot finally showing some consistency

Benoit Pouliot had quite the reputation preceding him when he arrived in Boston this summer.

He had worn the Blue, Blanc and Rouge of the Montreal Canadiens for the two years prior, and hed nearly taken Johnny Boychuks head off with a flying elbow during last years first round of the playoffs. He even had the hometown TV broadcasters call him one of the biggest busts in NHL history in a fit of pique, but Pouliot never truly struck back or let people see him sweat.

Instead Pouliot went about his business while attempting to build up a strong reputation with the Black and Gold, and hes still standing heading into the playoffs. Pouliot finished the regular season one shy of his career high in goals (16), and he set a new career-high with 32 points.

Theres been a lot of positive stuff. There have been some ups and downs, but a lot more ups. I feel like my confidence is pretty good right now, said the 25-year-old Pouliot, who finished with two goals in his last three games to close out the season. For me it was about learning what was going on down here. The winning streak helped me feel comfortable early on in the season, and allowing me to stay put on the third line has let me get a good feeling with the guys that Im playing with.

It wasnt the most consistent season as Pouliot rode some extreme highs and lows with some very timely, game-winning goals mixed in, but Claude Julien said that the lanky forward finally achieved some consistency over the final five weeks of the season. His forward pairing with Brian Rolston and Chris Kelly has turned the Bs third line into a dangerous combination that give the Bruins three legitimate threats among their forward lines headed into the playoffs.

Hes got 16 goals, right? I think we kind of anticipated thats what he was going to be giving us between that and 20. There were some ups-and-downs in his season, but typically I find that in the last while, hes been the player we were expecting him to be, said Claude Julien. Theres a better stability in his game and theres a consistency that goes with it. Hes played well, that lines played well and you know, so its been refreshing to see that.

We knew the one thing that he wanted to work on was consistency. He is capable of playing well, and theres some spurts where he wasnt as efficient as we knew he could be. But that part of his game has improved. I think hes matured in that area and we got a lot out of him.

So much so that perhaps Pouliot will be returning to the Bruins fold next season as he enters restricted free agency following the season. But that will be up to Pouliot if he can show his consistency and his penchant for creating highlight reel goals once the postseason begins on Thursday night.

Johnson beats Mariners 6-0 for Red Sox' 6th straight win

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Johnson beats Mariners 6-0 for Red Sox' 6th straight win

BOSTON - Brian Johnson pitched a five-hitter in his first big league appearance at Fenway Park, and the Boston Red Sox stretched their winning streak to a season-high six games with a 6-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday.

Brought up from Triple-A Pawtucket, Johnson (2-0) gave up five singles, struck out eight and walked none. The 26-year-old left-hander's only previous big league starts were at Houston on July 21, 2015, and at Toronto on April 18 this year.

Johnson became the first Red Sox pitcher to throw a shutout in his first Fenway start since Pedro Martinez on April 11, 1998. In Johnson's first start in Fenway - his fourth as a professional - he sustained a season-ending facial fracture when he hit by a line drive while pitching for Class A Lowell in 2012.

Johnson was helped by a semi-leaping catch by center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. at the wall in the sixth, Bradley's diving grab of Nelson Cruz's sinking liner in the ninth and Bradley's game-ending running catch of Kyle Seager's drive.

Xander Bogaerts' RBI single triggered a three-run first inning and Bradley hit a two-run homer in the sixth

Shut out for the second straight day, Seattle has lost seven of eight.

Rob Whalen (0-1) gave up five runs and seven hits over 5 1/3 innings in his Mariners' debut, his first big league start since Aug. 23 for Atlanta. He is Seattle's 12th starting pitcher, the most in the major leagues.

Andrew Benintendi and Sandy Leon also had RBI singles in the first, when the Red Sox had two batters hit by pitches, two walks and two runners thrown out on the bases - Dustin Pedroia at third for the first out and Hanley Ramirez at the plate for the last.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Mariners: RHPs Hisashi Iwakuma and Felix Hernandez, both on the DL with right shoulder inflammation, threw bullpen sessions. Hernandez said he "felt really good."... LHP James Paxton (strained forearm) is set to come off the DL and pitch at home Wednesday.

Red Sox: Pedroia was back at second base after getting Friday off to rest his sore left knee and not play on a wet field. He was hit by a pitch on the right forearm his first time up and went 1 for 3. ... 3B Pablo Sandoval, on the DL with a sprained right knee, was expected to play nine innings Saturday night in a rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket. Manager John Farrell didn't rule out that he could be activated next week.

UP NEXT

Mariners: RHP Christian Bergman (1-2, 6.30 ERA) gave up 10 runs and 14 hits over four innings in a 10-1 loss Tuesday at Washington.

Red Sox: RHP Rick Porcello (3-4, 4.35) has gone at least six innings in eight of nine starts.

How dominant has Craig Kimbrel been? The numbers are eye popping

How dominant has Craig Kimbrel been? The numbers are eye popping

Remember that infield hit by Jonathan Villar of the Brewers off Craig Kimbrel on May 11 in Milwaukee?

Don't worry, nobody does. That's the last hit off the Red Sox closer. That's right. One hit this month.

How dominant has Kimbrel been? Going into Saturday, right-handed hitters don't have a hit off him in their past 39 at-bats. Opponents are hitting .083 against him. Move the decimal point and 0.83 happens to be his season ERA, too, to go with 13 saves. 

Here's more via @SoxNotes:

Kimbrel, 28, has been one of baseball's best closers for years with the Atlanta Braves and San Diego Padres. His first year in Boston last season was solid with 31 saves and a 3.40 ERA, but his walks climbed (30 total and 5.1 per 9 innings, the second-highest totals of his career). He also struggled in non-save situations.

There's been no struggling lately. The last run Kimbrel gave up was a home run by Kendrys Morales of the Blue Jays in the ninth inning on April 20 in Toronto that tied the score at 1 in a game won by the Red Sox 4-1 in 10. Kimbrel got the win and his only blown save of the season.

His three-out save Friday night was his first outing without a strikeout since a one-out save April 23. That followed his four-strikeout inning Thursday night.