Once again, Benoit Pouliot has proved that he is utterly devoid of hockey sense.
With only four seconds left in the first period of game two, with his team trailing by two, Pouliot did something which he must have believed would ignite his team. With the Canadiens having dumped the puck into the offensive zone, Ryan White was applying the forecheck to Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk. Immediately after White had laid a clean hit on Boychuk, it happened.
Pouliot, from out of nowhere, charged at Boychuk, left his feet and nearly took his head off. Ironically, it was one of the few instances in this series that Pouliot was even noticeable in the offensive zone.
If you were watching the game, you heard the 21 273 at the Bell Center belt out a collective UGH.
Pouliot ended up with a two minute minor for charging. The Bruins would go on to score the game winning goal immediately after the penalty had been killed off. Martin preceded to bench his enigmatic forward for the rest of the game. Following the benching, Martin was forced to double shift Darche and Kostitsyn to make up for the lost forward.
In his post game press conference, Jacques Martin was asked whether or not Pouliot was injured, and if not, to elaborate why he didn’t see any ice time after the incident. Martin responded by simply stating that Pouliot was not injured.
Martin was clearly unimpressed with Pouliot’s decision making and decided to take him out of the game. Should he have been surprised however?
Pouliot has failed to produce all season long. After being given numerous opportunities on the first line and significant power play time, Pouliot managed only 13 goals. He has been incapable of scoring in pressure situations and has disappeared for large portions of the season.
Unlike other forwards who’s production is less than impressive, like Tom Pyatt, Pouliot finds a way to hurt his team rather than make up for his offensive deficiencies. Despite averaging just under 12 minutes per game, Pouliot found a way to be among the team’s leaders in minor penalties. Among forwards, he is second behind Thomas Plekanec.
I would understand a rookie like Lars Eller, who’s still adjusting to the NHL level, finding it difficult to stay out of the box. Pouliot was drafted in 2005 and has had six years to get used to the speed of the game. I could even understand an older player, with a more limited mobility, committing more penalties as he struggles to keep up with younger and faster players.
There’s no excuse for Benny.
From blue line to blue line, Pouliot shows flashes of brilliance. These flashes are often enough to trick some fans into thinking that there’s something to this guy and that he has the potential to be a star in this city.
I have to admit that, at times, I’ve been one of those fans. Pouliot has the ability to trick a lot of people into thinking that he’s better than he really is. It’s easy to understand why Pouliot was drafted so high. He has the skill level to completely dominate in the junior game. The problem is, you need more than a skill set to excel at the NHL level.
Pouliot doesn’t seem to have the mental awareness or strength to be successful. He’s constantly behind the play and is utterly incapable of winning a battle along the boards.
It’s now up to Jacques Martin to come to the same realization that the Minnesota Wild management and Habs fans have come to: that this guy simply can’t cut it at the NHL level.
He can’t produce his own offense, has trouble staying with the play in the offensive and defensive zones, and even struggles staying on two feet.
In the three playoff games he’s played this year, he hasn’t registered a shot, hasn’t blocked a shot and has no takeaways. He offers absolutely nothing of value to his teammates.
Until Jeff Halpern becomes available, Martin has a very simply choice to make.
He could turn to Yannick Weber, who has shown a willingness to battle in the corners, play defensively responsible hockey, and even the ability to chip in offensively… or he could give Pouliot yet another chance to cement his place withing the organization.
Let’s hope Martin hasn’t been tricked in the same way that I and so many other Habs fans already have. So far, he hasn’t publicly committed to inserting Weber into the lineup. Somehow I think he’s already made up his mind.