Yes, I know that Benoit Pouliot scored the game-winning goal for the New York Rangers in Game 7 against the Philadelphia Flyers. What I also know is that Pouliot has taken way too many foolish penalties thus far in the playoffs. He is too important to the Rangers to be in the box. He must stay out of the box in the next round against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
When he is on the ice, Pouliot forms the Rangers’ most consistent trio with Mats Zuccarello and Derick Brassard. The line has an uncanny ability to cycle the puck in the opposition’s zone, creating scoring opportunities at will. However, when Pouliot is in the box, it takes away from this line’s ability to get minutes.
The knock on Pouliot his entire career is that he is too inconsistent to be a good player. We all saw that in the beginning of the season, but to his credit he changed his game he became an effective player. He gets to the front of the net, and is always willing to throw his weight around.
There is a big difference, however, between playing physical and playing dumb. For most of the first round, Pouliot was playing dumb. His penalty in Game 6 changed the entire complexion of the game.
When Pouliot is at his best, he is getting to the front of the net and cycling the puck well. When he is not playing well, he is taking dumb penalties and costing his team momentum. Pouliot must continue to be aggressive in round two, but he must stay out of the box.