Bruins

Ex-villain Pouliot looks for new beginning with B's

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Ex-villain Pouliot looks for new beginning with B's

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
WILMINGTON At the conclusion of last years playoff series with the Canadiens, rangy winger Benoit Pouliot might have been voted the Montreal player least likely to ever don a Bruins sweater.

Pouliot had dropped the gloves and split open David Krejcis mouth during the regular season, was benched in the playoffs after he attempted to clean out Johnny Boychuk in the corner with a cheap elbow to the head, and suffered the verbal barrage of NESNs Jack Edwards in full rage after the attempted cheap shot on Boychuk.

Who could ever forget Edwards labeling Pouliot a chump and one of the greatest disappointments of talent in National Hockey League history and nobody could really call Edwards wrong in his assessment. Pouliot has a little bit of grit, ideal size and good offensive skills to go along with the cachet of being a No. 4 overall draft pick in the 2005 draft.

Pouliot has lugged the potential tag around with him at his previous stops in Minnesota and Montreal, but its never materialized beyond potting a combined 17 goals for the Wild and Habs two years ago. The 24-year-old winger didnt pull any punches in his first conversation about his final season with the Bleu, Blanc and Rouge, and appeared to have some Cool Hand Luke style communication failures with Jacques Martin.

A new start is always fun. I think my fresh start in Montreal went really good. My two years were definitely good and a lot more positive than negative, said Pouliot. Maybe there was a little bit of a slip there at the end. Coming to a new team youve got to earn the trust of the players and the coaches, and youve really got to just go out and do your own thing.

Its a business. Things happen. Ive just got to play the way that Im capable of. Ive got a couple of strengths for shooting and skating, and Im a pretty big guy. I can go into the corners very easily.

So what went wrong in Montreal?

I dont know. I think there was a little bit of a lack of trust there between me and the coach . . . maybe in the end, said Pouliot. When I first got there things were going well and he was playing me 16 or 17 minutes a game, but things went downhill after that. Last year I had a good year on the third and fourth line and played a full season. So that was good.

Pouliot actually sought out Krejci upon his arrival to smooth things over, but hockey fights and hard hits are usually forgiven and forgotten in the NHL when players become teammates. Hell also likely be competing with rookie Jordan Caron for a starting wing position on one of the bottom two lines with the Bruins, but that should make for a competitive situation in training camp.

The bigger deal might be the acceptance from a Bruins fan base thats looked at Pouliot as the enemy over the last two seasons, but the winger said hes on the right side of the equation now.

Its not easy being a new guy on the team especially when there arent many new guys at all.

The Pouliot signing might have been a curious one at first, but its also a move with very little downside for a team that could take advantage of a motivated forward that crapped out with the Wild and Canadiens. The Bruins themselves have several times used the Nathan Horton parallel when discussing Pouliot, and feel like the Boston hockey atmosphere could bring the best out of the perennial underachiever.

Pouliot is a big player with high end skill. We hope he comes into camp and does what we anticipate him doing or for example what Nathan Horton did last year, said Claude Julien. The knock on Pouliot has been inconsistency. But in the middle of the season to the end of the year Horton was as consistent as you would want him to be. You get a lot of those players that grow in those roles, and that happens because youve got a lot of players in that dressing room that know what accountability is. They make everybody that comes in here accountable.

Then as a group we seem to get the most out of these guys as players. Thats what were hoping to get out of Joe Corvo and Pouliot. Those are guys that are going to be vying for a spot.

Its all up to a player thats still young enough to start realizing his considerable puck potential, but old enough that hes not going to get too many more cracks at the NHL better than the one opening up for him in Boston.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Familiar faces get the best of the Bruins in Vegas

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Familiar faces get the best of the Bruins in Vegas

LAS VEGAS, Nevada – Perhaps part of the confused look from the Boston Bruins on the ice Sunday night in Las Vegas was a nagging feeling of déjà vu they never could shake. The Vegas Golden Knights took a 3-1 win over the Bruins for their fourth win in five tries this season, and handed the Bruins their third truly dreadful-looking defeat in five games played on the young hockey season.

It was tough to avoid the feeling that the Golden Knights were basically “Boston Bruins West”, and that was never too far away from notice as things played out on Sunday. Old friend and former Bruins play-by-play man Dave Goucher and ex-B's defenseman "Sheriff" Shane Hnidy are the friendly faces on the Vegas TV telecast, and were on the Jumbotron pregame in a skit with Carrot Top, of all people, to run down the arena's safety rules in a funny and well-produced video.

Former Bruins PR guru and Beverly native Eric Tosi is in charge of the media relations with the Golden Knights, and has been a busy, busy man along with the rest of the Vegas franchise getting the expansion club off the ground. He was even busier this past weekend, albeit with a relaxed smile on his face, as 20 members of the Tosi clan made the road trip out to Vegas to see the first NHL game between the two franchises.

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And there were the actual familiar faces on the ice with ex-Bruins Malcolm Subban and Colin Miller excelling against their old team. Subban only needed to stop 21 shots in the victory, but was able to finish his first NHL start and earn his first career NHL win against the Bruins franchise that left him unprotected on waivers just a couple of weeks ago.

The Bruins didn’t make the 23-year-old Subban sweat much during the game with pedestrian shots that hit the first-round pick squarely in the jersey crest, and pretty much zero attempts to beat his questionable glove hand.

"We know Malcolm well," said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. "He's a good first-shot goaltender for the most part. We wanted to put some stress on him and make him uncomfortable on those second ones, and I don't think we did a good job on that."

But give Subban credit for calming down his mental approach and refining his technique enough to play solid positional goaltending against the Bruins, and gaining some sweet revenge in the process.

Subban wasn’t gloating about it or basking in any kind of vengeance against his former team, but instead just expressed happiness at doing the job after stepping in for the injured Marc-Andre Fleury. It remains to be seen if Subban is going to be able to hold down the fort against the teams that will inevitably test him more than the hapless Bruins did, but he gave his team a good chance to win on Sunday.

"It's a great feeling. I made a lot of friends [in Boston], played with a lot of great teammates and (had) a great coaching staff. I'm just happy to get the win. The biggest thing was just not thinking, staying focused, and staying in the moment. It feels really good to get the first win in your first game," said Subban, "My first shot I got good control on it and that got me in the game a lot. You never know how the game is going to go in the NHL. It’s really technical. Sometimes you don’t get a lot of shots, so you gotta stay focused, and I felt I did that tonight.

“I thought I played pretty good. The biggest thing was my depth and not getting too deep in the net. Give myself the better opportunity to make the save. I feel like I did that (Sunday). There weren’t too many high chances. [There were] a lot of textbook saves and just having good rebound control. I’m happy to get the win.”

Miller didn’t factor into the scoring for the Golden Knights against the Bruins, but he was extremely active with three shots on net and eight shot attempts in 18:25 of ice time. He got plenty of power play time, was a plus player and looks like he might get the chance to develop his game in Vegas that hadn’t quite played out over the previous couple of years in Boston.

The Bruins won’t return to Vegas until next season, but the hope has to be those same Golden Knights’ familiar faces won’t get the best of the B’s when they come for their one-and-only visit to TD Garden at the beginning of November.

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Only five games into season, Bruins already sending off bad vibes

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Only five games into season, Bruins already sending off bad vibes

LAS VEGAS -- Even though it's only five games into a new regular season, it feels like the Bruins are in danger of going off the tracks.

They finished their three-game Western road swing Sunday with an aimless 3-1 loss to the expansion Golden Knights, which came on the heels of a wretched defeat in Colorado and a victory over the winless Coyotes. Sunday was particularly disheartening, as they never tested their ex-goalie, Malcolm Subban, putting only 21 mostly harmless shots on net against a player they gave away on waivers just a few weeks ago,

They may only have three losses in five games, but it sure feels like there's trouble starting to brew in Bruins land.

“It could be a lot of different things,” said Brad Marchand about the loss to Las Vegas. "We may not have been as mentally prepared for that game as we thought we were. They wanted it more than we did. They out-battled us in a lot of areas and they were the better team. We were making it hard on ourselves. We were trying to do too much with the puck, and not directing enough of the pucks toward the net. You can’t get rebound and you can’t get bodies there if the puck isn’t going there.”

That is a lot of different things. A lot of different problems:

-- They couldn’t fight to get to the front of the net against a rugged Vegas defensive group that was going to make them battle to get there.

-- Once again they had too many passengers along for the ride, with both Ryan Spooner and Frank Vatrano failing to even be a blip on the game’s radar screen. Spooner suffered a lower body injury midway through the game, but while he was out there he was a non-factor once again. 

-- It felt like there was no flow at all to Boston’s game, with breakouts dogged by sloppy passing and players who weren’t hard enough on the puck.

-- When they did get a chance to create something they either missed the net with their shot, or opted not to even take the shot in the first place. 

-- They lost 67 percent of the 57 draws taken during the game, and saw Spooner, Riley Nash and David Krejci and Ryan Spooner go a combined 8-for-29 in the face-off circle.

-- They chased the puck for long stretches and certainly didn’t ever put together anything approaching a consistent, driving pressure in the offensive zone.

Missing stalwart veterans like Patrice Bergeron and David Backes certainly isn’t helping. It makes the Bruins a much smaller group up front that can be pushed around by bigger, stronger defensive units.

But even so, there’s a sense the Bruins can’t consistently bring their 'A' game to the rink with them and don’t seem to have much fight when they fall down by a couple of goals. Trailing by just two goals going into the third period, the Bruins had four shots on net for most of the final period until a late flurry produced a score by David Pastrnak.

Perhaps of more concern, though, is the growing feeling that the Bruins aren’t all on the same page.

Marchand vaguely referenced that the Bruins weren’t prepared to play Sunday, and Tuukka Rask said he’ll no longer comment on anything except his own goaltending. Rask has always been candid and willing to be frank about any shortcomings after Bruins losses, but it appears that’s not something that is any longer welcome inside the B’s dressing room.

“I just try to go out there and give us a chance to win every night. That’s what I’m focused on,” said Rask. “I’m not going to comment anymore on team play that much. We can just talk about goaltending. That’s just the way it is. Sorry.”

Meanwhile, Krejci was similarly short in his postgame thoughts and started talking about avoiding pointing fingers after a frustrating loss.

“There’s no reason to point fingers," he said. "Yeah, we lost a game and it was a frustrating loss. But it’s just the fifth game of the season, so we don’t need to make a big deal out of it. We’re going to back to Boston, we’re going to work hard in practices and we’re going to get ready for the next game.”

Clearly, the fact this stuff is coming to the surface just five games into the season is a cause for concern. But it makes sense, given the way the Bruins are letting an easy portion of the season slip through their fingers.

In their first 10 games of the year, they're facing only one team that made the playoffs last season and they've got plenty of spaced-out stretches in the schedule to get off to a strong, healthy start. Instead they’re losing to subpar teams and highly unproven goalies, and doing so with a real lack of energy or purpose on the ice.

Certainly management would be smart to think about shipping underperforming players like Vatrano back to the AHL in place of Peter Cehlarik or Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson. And a few more games like Sunday’s snooze-fest could advance trade talks for a player like Matt Duchene.

But there aren’t going to be any easy answers. It comes down to hard work and hunkering down together as a team, and Sunday’s pitifully inept loss in a very winnable situation was yet another sign the Bruins aren't even close to being there yet.

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