MONTREAL – Would the real Benoit Pouliot please stand up?
“The Benoit Pouliot you’ll see next year will be the one from the regular season,” vowed Pouliot before embarking on his summer.
After being held to just two assists in 18 playoff games this year, Pouliot can’t wait to settle the score next year. Looking to get back into a groove that saw him notch 16 goals in 2009-10 – including nine in January alone – the young winger wants to prove why the Minnesota Wild picked him fourth overall in 2005.
“It’s true that things didn’t go well for me in the playoffs,” admitted Pouliot. “I was injured a lot, too, but that’s no excuse.
“My strengths are my shot and my skating and I know I’m capable of bringing that offensive element to the table,” continued the Alfred, ON native. “It was maybe another story in the playoffs, but I think I started to show that a bit in the regular season. This year was a great learning experience for me.”
Acquired from the Wild on November 23 in exchange for Guillaume Latendresse, the 22-year-old was far from sad to be moving from the Hockey State to hockey’s real Mecca this year.
“The trade was definitely a positive thing for me,” declared Pouliot, who spent the majority of the season alongside Scott Gomez
and Brian Gionta
. “The situation was a huge improvement for me compared to previous years. I’m really happy with how things have gone so far in Montreal. It’s been great from the second I arrived and it was lilke that throughout the year. I don’t regret it at all.”
With good reason. In 66 games over nearly four seasons in Minnesota under the tough-love coaching style of Jacques Lemaire and Todd Richards, Pouliot spent more time watching from the bench than he’d care to remember. That was then, this is now. Under Jacques Martin in Montreal, Pouliot played 17 minutes or more in 27 games, more ice time than he’s ever enjoyed outside of la Belle Province.
With his first full NHL season now under his belt, Pouliot has a pretty good idea of what it takes to be an impact player in the big leagues.
“This offseason I want to gain some more weight to be more solid on my skates and I plan to get even more explosive by doing tons of sprints,” described the 6-foot-3 winger. “I know that if I bring that into camp next year and I make sure I’m in the best shape possible, I’m doing what’s best for me and for the team.”Alexandre Harvey is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Shauna Denis.See alsoPierre Gauthier statement on Guy Boucher, head coach of the Lightning Overtime magic Year in review - Dominic Moore Year in review - Josh Gorges Year in review – Marc-Andre Bergeron