After four roller coaster seasons with the Minnesota Wild organization, Pouliot got a new lease on life when he was acquired by the Habs. The gifted winger is now as determined to seize his opportunity as his new head coach is intent on giving him that shot.
“Benoit’s got a really good attitude,” said Martin. “When it comes to young players, maturity is always an important factor. He’s a good kid who wants to take full advantage of the second chance he’s been given. We like his skill set and his speed. He doesn’t mind getting his nose dirty, either. The key for Benoit will be his consistency.”
At the root of that consistency is the confidence he’s been building thanks to his coach. Thursday’s game against the Panthers marked the third straight game in which Pouliot topped the 15-minute mark in ice time, the high water mark for him since reaching the NHL. All signs point to that number only climbing as he has responded with four goals in his last six games for the Habs, with a pair of game-winners including the deciding goal in Montreal’s 2-0 win over Florida.
“A goal is a goal and I’ll take it either way. Scoring the game-winning goal is even better,” smiled the 23-year-old winger. “And I’m getting more ice time than ever, which is definitely a plus.”
“It was an amazing feeling to hear my name announced at the Bell Centre for the first time like that. It gave me goosebumps,” admitted the Alfred, ON native. “Montreal isn’t like any other city. I’m just happy to have that first goal already behind me.”
Not complaining about his workload for a second, Pouliot was equally thrilled with the coworkers he’s been teaming up with so far, forming a high-octane trio with Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta.
“We have good chemistry. It’s great to play with guys as good as Brian and Scott are,” explained Pouliot. “I’m just trying to make some space for them out there, be the first on the puck and then get myself in front of the net. Scott is a great passer and Brian can really fire the puck.”
According to Gionta, the 2005 fourth-overall draft pick isn’t just good on paper, either.
“He’s got good size and he brings some key toughness,” underlined Gionta. “He’s a real asset to our line and he’s proven that over the past couple of games. He’s got an underrated shot and he showed that against Vokoun.”
It may not be spring in Montreal just yet, but that hasn’t stopped one cocoon in particular from bursting open at the Bell Centre.
New Year, same Halak
Halak tames Panthers
The Numbers Game - Jan. 7, 2010
Midseason report: the results are in!