Pouliot producing and congrats Joey!

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Prior to signing a five-year deal with the Oilers, Benoit Pouliot spent the previous five seasons in the NHL on five different teams. He started the 2009/2010 campaign in Minnesota, the team that drafted him fourth overall in 2005, and was dealt to Montreal. He spent a season and a half in Montreal before signing a one-year deal with the Bruins in July of 2011. The Bruins dealt his rights to Tampa Bay on June 23rd, 2012 and he signed a one-year pact with the Lightning. He signed another one-year deal with the Rangers in the summer of 2014, before the Oilers offered him a multi-year deal.

So far, Pouliot has rewarded the Oilers with a solid 39 games.

Pouliot tallied 20 points in 34 games with the Lightning in the shortened 2013 season, so this is not his most productive stretch of games, but 13 goals in 39 games is the most productive goal scoring stretch of his career.

Pouliot does more than just score. He brings a competitiveness on every shift that the Oilers need. At times he has been too intense, but since his selfish spearing penalty late in third period vs. Detroit that cost the Oilers the game, Pouliot has been incredibly disciplined.

I spoke to Pouliot after that game and he didn’t mince his words when I asked him what led to him taking that penalty. “It’s just frustrating. I feel shame, obviously, coming in the room after seeing the guys going all-out, all night. And then
I go do something so F*&^*ing stupid at the end. I can’t take it back now. I
have to move on from it and learn that it was so stupid.”

Pouliot was visibly upset with himself. You could tell he wasn’t just saying it was stupid, he knew it was and it really bothered him. Since that game on January 6th, Pouliot has tried to make up for that error in judgment.

He has nine goals and 11 points in 16 games, and he’s only taken three minor penalties. Outside of producing points, Pouliot goes to the hard areas on the ice. He wins battles in the corners and in front of the net. He creates space for his linemates and he is still very good on the forecheck. He has found a nice balance on how to be aggressive in the offensive zone without taking penalties.

When Pouliot was signed I will admit I was a bit leery of the term of his contract. I liked how he played the game, and he had good possession numbers, especially with the Rangers. He didn’t face very difficult quality of competition, but he had solid analytics. However, he had never scored more than 15 goals in a season and had been deemed expendable by five different organizations. Through 39 games it looks like I was off-base in worrying about the term or salary, because he has played quite well.

He has been a great fit on a line with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle recently. Eberle has been on fire since Todd Nelson took over, with nine goals and 23 points in 26 games, and Pouliot’s feistiness and quick shot are a great complement to Eberle and RNH.

It also should allow Nelson to put Hall on the second line to give the Oilers two productive lines. Teams would have to decide which line will face their #1 D pair. The Oilers haven’t had two consistent productive lines in a long time, and it will be a necessity if they want to compete for a playoff spot next season.

A HOT STREAK?

Some will question if this is simply a hot streak for Pouliot, and that’s fair. He has a 19.5 SH% right now and that is not sustainable long-term, but even if he was at his average, 13.5, he’d still have nine goals in 39 games, which prorates to his best season ever.

Pouliot signed in Edmonton because he wanted some stability. He wanted to know where he was playing and create some stability on and off the ice. I’ve been critical of some of Craig MacTavish’s moves, but he should be applauded for signing Pouliot. So far it is looking like a solid signing.

Pouliot brings more than just goals and assists, and his competitiveness and willingness to battle hard most games rubs off on his fellow forwards.

QUICK HITS…

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  • Joey Moss has been named to the 2015 Alberta Sports
    Hall of Fame induction class in the Achievement category. It couldn’t happen to a better person. Joey has inspired many people — those with Downs Syndrome and those without — to achieve more, and he has been a staple of the Edmonton Sporting scene for 30 years. Wayne Gretzky was dating his sister Vicki in 1984 when he met Joey. The story goes that he was impressed by how hard Joey worked and told Glen Sather he should look at hiring Joey.

    Slats did, and at the end of the 1985/1986 hockey season Gretzky wanted to make sure Joey kept up his routine, so he called the Eskimos head equipment guy, Dwanye Mandrusiak, to see if they’d be interested in having Joey help them. Mandrusiak agreed and Joey has been working with both organizations since 1986.

    Joey has a mural on 99th street in honour of his dedication to the Oilers and Eskimos. In 2012, he received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, which honours significant
    contributions and achievements by Canadians.

    I’ve covered both teams since 2001 and it was always a pleasure to see Joe. He could always make you feel good about yourself. “Looking good,” was a line he greeted me with almost daily. He also used to announce, “Room is open,” to the media on many occasions.

    He is an inspiration to thousands and loved by all the players and people who played and worked for the Oilers. Whenever ex-Oilers or Eskimos come to town many of them go out of their way to make sure they go say hit to Joey.

    Congrats Joey, you deserve all the recognition you receive.

  • More Edmontonians should be like Moss. He is extremely proud of Edmonton and it disappoints me when people who reside here rip on the city. The city is more than just home to the Oilers. The Oilers have provided much joy and entertainment over the years, no doubt, but the city itself is wonderful. Recently, ESPN had a article saying Edmonton was the place most NHL players with NMC didn’t want to go. That isn’t surprising, but the response from hockey fans and people in Edmonton was disappointing, at least from my perspective.

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