|11.06.14 at 4:28 pm ET|
Benoit Pouliot’s signing in Boston in 2011 didn’t register as an earth-shaker and nor did his departure, yet both have had lasting impacts on both the player and the Bruins.
Pouliot, a third-liner in Boston who served as a journeyman for years, now has a longterm home. Trading him away helped the Bruins get a top-six right wing.
After playing for five different teams in five years, Pouliot now looks at his 2011-12 campaign in Boston as a major reason as to why, for the first time in his career, he has job security. Pouliot signed a five-year, $20 million contract with the Oilers in free agency this summer after post-Boston stops with the Lightning and Rangers.
“It helped me a lot. I think I had best year [to that point] in Boston,” Pouliot said Thursday. “I think I learned a lot about playing defense first and then offense. I think it helped my game a lot and I think I still had a good production year in the role I was put in in Boston. I really enjoyed it and I think it set me up to where I am today.”
The fourth overall pick in the 2005 draft by the Wild, Pouliot fell out of favor in both Minnesota and eventually Montreal before taking a one-year, $1.1 million contract with the Bruins, who were looking to fill Michael Ryder‘s spot on the cheap. For his shortcomings with consistency and offensive zone penalties, Pouliot essentially replaced Ryder’s production, scoring 16 goals in the regular season after Ryder scored 18 in each of his last two seasons in Boston.
It’s Pouliot’s exit in Boston that has helped the Bruins now. During the 2012 draft, the B’s traded the rights to the restricted free agent to Tampa for a fifth-round pick and AHLer Michel Ouellet. The Bruins released Ouellet, but the fifth-round pick was used on Seth Griffith, a right wing playing for the London Knights of the OHL. Griffith is now a top-six forward on David Krejci‘s line.
Pouliot scored eight goals and added 12 assists in 34 games for the Lightning in the lockout-shortened season before signing a one-year deal with the Rangers. He turned in a modest regular season of 15 goals and 21 assists for 36 points, but he scored some big goals in the team’s run to the Stanley Cup finals and hit free agency with a number of teams interested. The Rangers were among them (“I really wanted to go back,” he said), but Pouliot prioritized term over everything else. The Oilers offered $4 million annually over five years ‘ a major gamble for which the team has been criticized ‘ and he took it.
Now, Pouliot is at the beginning of what should be a lengthy stay in Edmonton. Though he’s only 28, he’s the fourth-oldest forward among a very young crop of offensive talent. His top-five high selection in the draft gives him something in common with Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov, all of whom are first overall picks.
Pouliot knows what it’s like to be a high pick, but the only advice he feels he should give the trio of first overall picks is to try to avoid a path like the one he’s traveled.
“I’ve been through the worst things possible, I think,” he said. “One-years everywhere and I wasn’t really consistent on my game. It got me to this point where I finally found it and try to bring it every night.
“For them, they’re such good players. There’s still a lot to learn obviously and a lot to do, but they’ll be fine. I’ll try to help them out as much as I can, but at the same time, I don’t see a problem with the young guys we have on our team, because they’re really good. We’ll figure it out.”
|11.06.14 at 2:55 pm ET|
Andrew Ference‘s second return to the Garden since signing with the Oilers in the summer of 2013 won’t be as special as his first return. Most notably, he won’t be playing.
Ference will serve the second game of a three-game suspension Thursday night as his Oilers face the Bruins. Ference’s ban came for a hit to the head of Vancouver forward Zack Kassian over the weekend.
“You never want to get suspended, but to miss a game in this town is a little extra kick in the butt,” Ference said. “It is what it is. It’s unfortunate, but I still get to see everybody and still get to make the trip. That’s important.”
The 35-year-old defenseman is in his second season as Oilers captain. He served as an alternate captain in his final two seasons in Boston and was a fan favorite for his off-ice involvement with the city. Despite not being able to play, Ference said he’s still happy to return to Boston.
“It’s awesome as ever,” he said. “I’ve got lots to do, lots of people to see. Obviously I have more time on my hands than people were expecting, but I’ve filled it all up. It’s a special place. I’ve got too many friends and not enough time to see everybody.”
Ference received a strong ovation last February when he played his first game back in Boston.
|11.06.14 at 2:04 pm ET|
NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire made his weekly appearance Thursday on Middays with MFB prior to the Bruins’ Thursday night game against the Oilers, as well to discuss Claude Julien‘s contract extension. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
Julien inked a three-year contract extension over the weekend. McGuire said he has noticed Julien has become more comfortable working within the organization and with his coaching staff.
“I think they are really comfortable because there is a great relationship between the general manager, Peter Chiarelli and the coach, Claude Julien,” said McGuire. “I think they’ve become more and more comfortable over time and the one thing I think the Bruins like more than anything else is the stability of their franchise. It’s a very stable franchise and both guys have shown they can handle it.
“One of the things I think Claude is really learning to do over time is delicate authority. [Assistant coach Doug Houda] is getting a lot more responsibility, especially when it comes to changing the defense. Hiring a former head coach in the NHL in Joe Sacco, I think that helps you a lot. Doug Jarvis is one more cherished assistant coaches in the league. I think he’s learned to delegate authority really well. Quite frankly, I think it works really well in Boston. I enjoy being around their team and part of that reason is because of their coaching staff.”
The Bruins have enjoyed some success of late, winning three in a row and four-of-five. The wins have come against some of the weaker teams in the league — including the Panthers and Sabres — but McGuire notes the team can only play who comes up on their schedule.
“You’re always looking for your team to be a little bit better all the time, but I think like some college teams, you can’t pick your schedule, you have to play the way it comes down,” McGuire said. “They play Edmonton tonight, then they have a nice weekend off before they have to play next week against New Jersey and Toronto. They have a nice opportunity to give themselves a reward by beating Edmonton, a team not one of the upper-enchalant teams in the league.”
|11.06.14 at 11:37 am ET|
The Bruins held an optional morning skate Thursday, with both David Krejci and Torey Krug taking the ice at TD Garden.
Krejci has missed the last two games (and five overall this season) due to a hip injury. He skated prior to Wednesday’s practice and could make his return to the lineup Thursday against the Oilers. Claude Julien said the team would determine during the day whether he would take pregame warmups and, should that happen, decide if he plays after that.
“We’ll see after he gets off,” Julien said of Krejci taking warmups when asked as the optional skate took place. “If he does, there’s a chance he’ll play, obviously.”
Krug remains out with a broken finger that was suffered last Tuesday against the Wild. Skating isn’t the issue for Krug, but rather his ability to grip his stick.
“He’s doing well. Obviously his finger is doing much, much, much better,” Julien said. “It depends again how quickly that comes around. He’s the only one that’s probably going to be able to tell us. Right now, medically they’ve given him permission to go out and skate and hold on to his stick and everything else. I think, from what I’m being told right now, it will be up to him how quickly he gets that feeling that he can hold his stick properly and that it’s not going to be an issue.”
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|11.05.14 at 11:59 am ET|
WILMINGTON — David Krejci skated prior to Wednesday’s Bruins practice, but left the ice as the team began skating at Ristuccia Arena. Krejci has missed the last two games with a hip injury that he’s battled all season.
Claude Julien said after the skate that he didn’t know if Krejci would be available for Thursday’s game against the Oilers. Missing Thursday would provide extended rest for Krejci, as the Bruins won’t play again after Thursday until Monday when they host the Devils.
The lines in practice were the same they’ve been the last two games:
Lucic - Kelly - Griffith
Marchand - Bergeron - Smith
Fraser – Soderberg – Eriksson
Paille - Campbell - Gagne
Seidenberg – Hamilton
Morrow – McQuaid
Warsofsky – Trotman
Oilers captain and former Bruin Andrew Ference will not play in Thursday’s game, as he is serving the second game of a three-game suspension for a high hit on Vancouver forward Zack Kassian.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|11.05.14 at 1:52 am ET|
Marchand was the player who scored five goals against Vancouver in the 2011 Stanley Cup finals, four of which came against Luongo and the final one game on an empty net in Game 7 after he and the Bruins chased him from the game with under three minutes left.
On Tuesday, in a game much less significant, Marchand did it again to Luongo, this time at 3:27 of overtime on a spectacular goal to give the Bruins a 2-1 overtime win against the Florida Panthers at TD Garden. Marchand, who missed two great chances earlier in overtime, blew by defenseman Dylan Olsen, dragging the puck to Olsen’s left. On the other side, Marchand re-collected the puck and snapped one past Luongo’s blocker. Game over.
“Well he’s a big guy, and he fills a lot of the net,” Marchand said of Luongo. “He seems to battle hard, and cuts his angles down well. I mean he’s one of the top goalies in the league. He has been for a long time. It’s always tough when you play him.”
Asked specifically if he has more confidence against Luongo, Marchand didn’t dispute the obvious.
“Yeah, definitely. Anytime I go into a game and there’s a goalie that I score on more than others, I always feel confident in that situation,” Marchand admitted. “And tonight, I kind of felt the same way. You kind of hope at the same time that maybe luck will be on your side, but again, you want to try to be confident all the time, but it’s definitely something you can use to your advantage.”
|11.05.14 at 12:32 am ET|
If ever Shawn Thornton wanted a reminder of what he meant to Bruins fans over the last seven years, he got it in a 45-second tribute in the first period Tuesday night at TD Garden.
As they did with the return of Johnny Boychuk two weeks earlier, the Bruins gave a video tribute on the large monitors above center ice midway through the first period. It featured him holding up the Stanley Cup in 2011, scoring a goal and naturally some of his better fisticuffs over his time in black and gold.
He showed his appreciation by waving his stick in the air.
“It’s pretty touching you know,” Thornton said. “Very, very kind, very gentle. Gentle? That’s not the word I was looking for. To get a standing ovation in a visiting arena is pretty special and I appreciate it. The fans have always been great to me here and again tonight. It’s pretty nice.”
Thornton, who signed a two-year, $2.4 million deal on July 1, played 17 shifts and spent 14 minutes on the ice as coach Gerard Gallant used his whole bench. He finished with one shot, one takeaway and four hits, but no fights.
“Well, Turk rolls four lines so I think he has had confidence in our line all year,” Thornton said. “Again tonight was another case of that. I think it’s nice to have two guys in Mack [Derek MacKenzie] and Kopy [Tomas Kopecky] that I’m playing with, it makes life a little easier for me. It’s nice to have the trust in us to put us out there.”