While an important cog on the New York Rangers‘ third scoring line with center Derick Brassard and winger Mats Zuccarello, Benoit Pouliot needs to have a short leash in the Stanley Cup Finals from head coach Alain Vigneault.
What do I mean by short leash, you ask? While scoring three goals and recording five assists so far this postseason for the Rangers, his eight points have been highly overshadowed by the many penalties he has taken throughout the first three rounds of this year’s NHL playoffs.
Pouliot has taken an ungodly 20 penalty minutes in 20 playoff games played, and must be monitored closely by Vigneault in the Stanley Cup Final. The Rangers just cannot afford to take many penalties in the Final, no matter their opponent. Whether the Rangers play the Chicago Blackhawks or Los Angeles Kings for the Stanley Cup starting on Wednesday, both teams have very potent offenses that can strike quickly when given any little opportunity.
The penalties Pouliot has taken throughout the playoffs have mostly been obvious and unnecessary penalties to take. If Pouliot continues to take unwarranted penalties in the Stanley Cup Final, then the Rangers will find themselves eliminated and fast. Here is where the short leash comes in.
If Pouliot still does not learn his lesson from the previous three rounds of the playoffs and continues to take blatant and unnecessary penalties, then Vigneault must do what is best for the team and limit Pouliot’s minutes in the Final, and scratch him from the lineup in the worst-case scenario. Pouliot’s offense may be missed, but his penalty taking definitely will not.