Pouliot takes a step forward

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Pouliot takes a step forward

BOSTON -- Benoit Pouliot was anxious to get back into the mix for the Bruins after he missed the last three games with an illness. Jordan Caron had stepped into his spot while improving with each game that he played in, but the door was opened again for Pouliot when Rich Peverley needed a rest Monday night due to a minor undisclosed injury."

So Peverley sat, and Pouliot managed to open the game with his first career goal as a member of the Bruins and helped open things for a 5-2 victory over the Islanders at the Garden. Pouliot went hard to the net on the first shift of the game and crashed down toward the net as Caron tossed a puck that was hiding in Evgeni Nabokovs skates.

Pouliot sped to the front of the net and pushed the loose puck into the back of the net to give Boston a quick advantage, and give the Bruins some production from their free agent signee out of Montreal. Pouliot finished with 8:39 of ice time, the one shot on net, and a takeaway, giving further evidence that things are getting incrementally better in a Black and Gold uniform.

Pouliot is still fighting to get noticed for the right reasons, but at least the frenetic energy and production met for a meaningful performance in Boston. It doesnt mean Pouliot is going to suddenly realize his vast potential with the Bruins, but at least there was a little something.
The Bruins coaching staff wants Pouliot to use his 6-foot-3 lanky frame as a potential screen and shot-changer camped in front of the net. That position along with his linemates led to lighting the lamp.

It was nice to see, and Pouliot was in the right place. He was right there, put on the breaks, and banged it in. In the second period we almost had another identical one, with Jordan Caron throwing it across the crease, said Julien. Pouliot is a guy thats working hard, hes trying to find his way on this hockey club, trying to adapt.

His work ethic and compete level is there, so, again, weve just got to keep working with him and see how far we can go.

It remains to be seen if Peverley can return to the lineup. Also, Daniel Paille could miss time with a suspected broken nose after taking a Steve Staios slapper straight to the face in the third period. But in a world where some of the bottom six Bs forwards are getting a little banged up, Pouliot might get a few more chances to string together some meaningful performances.

Steelers descending into disarray?

Steelers descending into disarray?

Less than 48 hours removed from openly wondering if the AFC Championship Game stage was “too big” for some of his young teammates, Ben Roethlisberger has decided to play the latter-day Hamlet/Brett Favre game.

Speaking on Pittsburgh’s 93.7 The Fan on Tuesday, Roethlisberger hinted at retirement.

“I’m going to take this offseason to evaluate, to consider all options,” Roethlisberger said. “To consider health, and family and things like that and just kind of take some time away to evaluate next season, if there’s going to be a next season. All those things. I think at this point in my career, at my age, that’s the prudent and smart thing to do every year.”

The soon-to-be-35-year-old Roethlisberger is a likely Hall of Famer who’s still arguably one of the top five quarterbacks in the NFL. But for whatever reason, he’s got an insatiable need for people to register concern about his status. Whether it be limping around the field, lamenting injuries or this, few quarterbacks in the league go through the same histrionics Roethlisberger does in order to get those, “Attaboy, Ben!” backslaps.

I remember being at Steelers training camp in 2009 in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, and having veteran Steelers writers roll their eyes as Roethlisberger started hopping around like he was on hot coals after a throw. The quarterback having an owie act was a daily tradition.

Roethlisberger’s also got a passive aggressive side in which he’ll deftly twist the knife on coaches and teammates but leave himself enough room for plausible deniability.

In addition to openly wondering if his young teammates took the AFC Championship Game seriously enough, Roethlisberger gave the “just running the plays as I’m told” answer when asked about the Steelers resistance to running a quarterback sneak when they were at the Patriots goal line before halftime. Roethlisberger could have taken offensive coordinator Todd Haley off the hook there – he’s lobbied for Haley to get a head coaching shot after the two had a bad relationship when Haley arrived. But he opted not to.

Similarly, earlier this year, Roethlisberger’s critiques of the way head coach Mike Tomlin was running the team were aired. 

So, this could be part of a Roethlisberger power play aimed at the Steelers bowing to his wishes.

That wasn’t the only tidbit from Pittsburgh that looked bad for the AFC finalists. Linebacker Bud Dupree said the Steelers were surprised by the Patriots using an up-tempo offense earlier in the game. 

Do they not have electricity or internet access in the Steelers facility? Up-tempo is a staple part of the Patriots offensive diet. You can see it on the television or the internet through your smart phone.

While there’s no doubt that defensive coordinator Keith Butler – and defensive minded head coach Tomlin – were aware and talked about the Patriots going no-huddle, the fact Dupree (and his teammates) were unable to recall the preparation or adequately fall into an emergency plan to address it does fall on the coaches.

Need more? It’s also being leaked out of the building that Antonio Brown cares too much about his statistics. He made clear last week how much he cares about advancing his personal brand at the expense of Tomlin and the team with his Facebook Live video. 

If there’s an upside for anyone in all this, it would have to be Joey Porter. Nobody’s even talking about his off-field fracas anymore.

As this season ably demonstrated, the Patriots have plum run out of authentic rivals in the AFC. That the team they just pulverized is steamrolling into an offseason of dysfunction and uncertainty isn't good if you like parity. But it's terrific if you couldn't care less.