BostonBruins.com – Shortly before the 2012 NHL Draft last June, the B’s traded Benoit Pouliot to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for Michel Ouellet and a fifth-round pick in the draft, who turned out to be center Seth Griffith.
Thanks to the blizzard earlier this month that wiped out what was supposed to be Pouliot’s first chance at facing his old team, the winger had to wait until tonight.
Pouliot says that his mindset entering the game won’t change just because he is facing his former teammates.
“Same thing as any game,” said Pouliot on whether he prepared any differently for tonight’s game. “I played there last year, but I don’t want to think about it too much. Just play like it would be any team out there.”
The former 2005 first round pick – fourth overall – had nothing but good things to say about his time in Boston, calling it a “great experience.”
“It was awesome,” said Pouliot, following the Lightning’s morning skate at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. “I got in there right after they won the Cup, so it was a little overwhelming just to see how everything was and how the guys were.
“But, they took care of me very good and they pushed me. Everyone pushed me, the coaching staff, all the guys. Just to see how they work hard in practice and in games.
“It was a great experience, great year.”
Pouliot, who says he still keeps in touch with some of the B’s, knows the team well and is prepared for the challenge that the Black & Gold will present.
“Big, fast, strong,” Pouliot said, when asked to give a scouting report of the Bruins. “They follow the game plan every game. They do the things that they’re told to do. When they do that, they’re a dangerous team. We know, coming in here, it’s going to be a big challenge, a good test. We want to compete against the best teams out there.”
Adjusting to his new team has been a challenge at times, especially in a shortened season, but as the games have gone on, Pouliot has caught up.
“It’s always tough at the beginning to learn new things like that,” explained Pouliot. “In Boston it was a lot different; coming in here it took a few practices, a few games to get use to. There’s still some things that I’ve got to learn better, do better out there.
“Things are going pretty well, I just want to stay positive and learn as quick as I can. It’s a learning process, just have to know how things are going down here, how things work.”
He has had some help learning the Tampa Bay way, especially of late. With an injury to Ryan Malone, Pouliot has gotten the chance to skate on the second line alongside Vinny Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis – two pretty good players to look up to.
“It’s always nice when you have big names like that playing on your side,” Pouliot said. “They talk so much, every game Marty’s been talking. Marty’s a big talker, but it’s nice, he helps me.
“They have good chemistry, Vinny and Marty together. I just want to fit in there, try to do what I’m supposed to do. I’ll go work in the corner, stand in front of the net, let them play with the puck. When I get the chance, I’ll help.”
Last season, Pouliot put up good offensive numbers, despite playing on the third line. This year, the winger has scored five goals and registered eight assists on what some consider to be a more offensive-based team.
Pouliot disagreed, saying the Lightning’s system is very similar to the Bruins’ defense-first mentality.
“The mindset is a kind of like in Boston, defense comes first and then after that we’ll take care of the offense,” he said. “It’s the exact same thing here. For me, the main thing is not to get scored on.
“After that, when you get the chance to go offensively and make plays or do something in that area, you do it and make the play. Right now, playing with Marty and Vinny, that’s what they’re good at.”
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