Patriots

Pouliot a reliable replacement for B's

589572.jpg

Pouliot a reliable replacement for B's

BOSTON -- The next five games present quite a challenge for Benoit Pouliot.

The athletic, gritty winger has been elevated to Bostons top left wing position skating alongside Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin while Brad Marchand is serving out his five-game suspension. That means he's been thrust into a primo offensive spot where he can succeed offensively in a way that hasn't always been possible during his stints in Montreal and Minnesota. Pouliot matched a career-high with three assists while filling in for a flu-ridden Marchand during the Bs blowout victory over the Calgary Flames last week, and added a power play goal as an insurance marker in Bostons 5-3 decision over the Winnipeg Jets Tuesday night.

Its the perfect temporary promotion for Pouliot, who plays with some truly skilled offensive players while showing off his skating speed. His coach laughed at the notion that it's not always Gazelle-like, but Pouliot has an unconventional way of throwing off opponents with a forecheck attack that seems to be all gangly arms and legs.

Hes a good skater," said coach Claude Julien. "He doesnt always look elegant, I guess, but he can skate, and hes pretty shifty. Maybe because of the way he skates, hes hard to predict. He really is.

But he does a good job, like I keep saying about, on the forecheck. He comes at you, and you dont know what angle Pouliot is going to be coming at you, and hes got a good stick.

His speed is good, and obviously he scores a goal tonight because hes in front of the net, and hes not afraid to go to those areas. Hes got good size, hes got good speed, and, again, he doesnt seem to have any fear. The one thing I know is that he feels very comfortable with this group of guys, and that he knows everybodys got everybodys back, so wherever he has to go. I think hes developed that confidence as the team has moved on here this year.

Pouliot has a goal and four points in the last three games, and has fired off nine shots while making noise with a suffocating forecheck and tough physical play right on the edge. That sounds awfully Marchand-like when you think about it, doesn't it?While Marchand is an incredible top-line value out and will be missed during his five-game suspension, it would be short-sightedto overlook Pouliots offensive upsides and ability to create exotic-looking offensive rushes up and down the ice. Nobody would have ever thought Pouliot could effectively replace Marchand at the beginning of the season, but that's the evolution of the former Habs underachiever.

Pouliots speed, tenacity, force of will, willingness to play the body and partially out-of-control enthusiasm have allowed the energy line forward to step into Marchands shows rather easily while wreaking havoc in the attack zone. Theres only one Nose Face Killah, but Pouliot is doing a rather nice facsimilie ofthe resident 5-foot-9 rabble-rouser at a time when the Bruins could really use him.

MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Wentz tosses 4 TDs, Eagles beat Redskins, 34-24

eagles_carson_wentz_102317.jpg

MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Wentz tosses 4 TDs, Eagles beat Redskins, 34-24

PHILADELPHIA - Carson Wentz tossed four touchdown passes, and the Philadelphia Eagles overcame losing nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters in a 34-24 win over the Washington Redskins on Monday night.

Wentz threw for 268 yards and ran for a career-best 63 after a shaky start to lead the NFL-best Eagles (6-1) to their fifth straight win. But the victory was costly because Peters was carted off the field with a knee injury in the third quarter.

Kirk Cousins had 303 yards passing and three TDs for the Redskins (3-3).

The Eagles went three-and-out three times in their first four drives and had only 57 total yards before Wentz hit Mack Hollins in stride with a perfect 64-yard TD pass to tie it at 10.

That got the offense rolling.

Wentz connected with Zach Ertz for 46 yards on the next series and found him again for a 4-yard TD pass to make it 17-10.

After getting the second-half kickoff, the Eagles drove 86 yards for another touchdown. Peters was injured during the series, and fans chanted his name while teammates surrounded the cart.

Wentz finished the drive off with a play that Peters would appreciate.

While being hit by two defenders and falling forward, Wentz lofted a 9-yard TD pass to Corey Clement.

Wentz fired a 10-yard TD pass to Nelson Agholor to expand the lead to 31-17. Wentz kept that drive alive by escaping a sack and running 17 yards on third-and-8.

Cousins tossed a 7-yard touchdown pass to Chris Thompson to give the Redskins a 10-3 lead. He connected with Jordan Reed on a 5-yard TD to cut the deficit to 24-17 and threw a 12-yard pass to Reed to cap the scoring.

The Eagles were penalized on four straight plays to start their first possession before Wentz was intercepted by Quinton Dunbar on a deep pass to Torrey Smith on second-and-31.

Philadelphia swept Washington for the first time since 2013 and has a commanding lead in the NFC East. The Cowboys and Redskins are tied for second place.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Are Patriots' defensive problems solved?

best_of_bst_podcast.jpg

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Are Patriots' defensive problems solved?

0:41 - Tom Giles, Michael Holley, and Tom Curran react to the Patriots’ 23-7 win over the Falcons on Sunday night and whether the Patriots deserve to be considered Super Bowl favorites.

6:09 - Is Johnson Bademosi an upgrade over Stephon Gilmore at cornerback for the Patriots? Michael Hurley joins BST to debate with Tom Curran, Michael Holley, and Kayce Smith. They also discuss the defense’s overall improvement in Sunday night’s win.

14:37 - NBC Sports Boston’s Red Sox insider Evan Drellich joins the show to talk about the Red Sox hiring Alex Cora to be their new manager, whether it was the right choice, and how his presence will affect the Red Sox clubhouse.

22:14 - Kayce Smith and Tom Curran discuss Kyrie Irving’s vulgar response to a Philadelphia fan yelling “Where’s LeBron?” at him on Friday night.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE