Appreciating Benoit Pouliot’s recent play

Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Image
Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Image

When the Rangers signed Benoit Pouliot in the offseason, we viewed it as a solid depth signing that could lead to some great tertiary scoring. Pouliot was one of the league leaders in P/60, and the Rangers got him for a bargain of a contract. It was low-risk, high-reward at its finest.

However the signing didn’t work out as planned –at least to start the season– for the Rangers. As the team adapted to the new system, Pouliot was one of the players who really struggled. He didn’t register a point until the ninth game of the season. Through two months, he had a measly four points (2-2-4) and was the target of many angry Ranger fans.

Then December came around. Since the beginning of that month Pouliot has 11 points in 15 games (6-5-11), including a seven-game point streak. Five of those points (4-1-5) came on the powerplay. In the span of 15 games, Pouliot has gone from whipping boy to tenth on the team in scoring and sixth in goals. That is probably the fastest turnaround we have ever seen.

The improvement is not just limited to scoreboard contributions either. Pouliot has been much more engaged, getting in on the forecheck, forcing turnovers, heading to the front of the net, and getting those dirty goals. That is what was expected of him when he came to New York, and it’s now been 15 straight games of solid play from Pouliot. His production has moved him into the top-100 best bargains in the NHL.

From a puck possession standpoint, Pouliot is sixth on the team in relative Corsi. It is important to use relative Corsi here as we need to compare him to his teammates, not the league. Pouliot is ahead of guys like Ryan Callahan, Derick Brassard, Carl Hagelin, Derek Stepan, and Rick Nash.

Pouliot likely isn’t going to continue on this pace, especially given his career history, but his contributions are one of the main reasons why the Rangers remain in playoff contention. Pouliot’s name still gets thrown through the mud a bit. But given his recent play, that should stop relatively soon. He’s far from the current problem plaguing the current crop of forwards.

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  • Hasn’t this season, so far, been similar to his career overall? One of inconsistency and periods of brilliance?

    Pouliot is a very nice player when performing at a high level. I wonder if the Rangers plan to resign him. He seems to play the style consistent with AV’s objectives.

    • There should be no talk of re-signing this guy until the end of the season. If he continues to play like he is, then consider giving him a second year, if not let him go. Bottom line, the ball is in his court, perform dude!!!!!

  • He and Zuccs seem to have some chemistry going at the moment. Someone last night pointed out that the Rangers only have 4 forwards signed for next year not counting Richards. Going to be a lot of angst in the off season.

  • Pouliot has led a relative resurgence with the forward group over the past two weeks. Hopefully the two biggest culprits – Nash and Stepan – turn it on (hopefully Sochi helps) and provide the top line scoring needed.

    I still feel the defensive corp is the biggest weakness on this team, however (who would have thought?), and some help is needed there to support McDonagh.

    • Hats off to Sergei Bobrovsky who make some great saves to keep Columbus in the game, but there was still a lack of consistent hitting and toughness (especially in front of Hank). Tis is a big weakness of the Rangers this year that makes them just a decent team but not an elite team
      Puck possession alone although necessary, is not enough at times to hold an opposing team down for any length of time. Most NHL teams can stay or keep up with the puck procession game and neutralize any quality shots on goal. You need agitators and intimidators to at times stifle the momentum of an opposing team and stir up things. The Ranger defense is way to soft with Stralman, Girardi, Staul, Del Zoto, J. Moore. Most of the forwards are also soft players. Trade now, the soon to be FA,S for some bigger and more physical players. Stephan is a BIG disappointment this year after holding out in training camp for more money
      I would even consider trading him if the return was very, very good (He’s another soft player even though he has potential and a good skillset). we need to check out the elite teams farm systems (prospect players struck in the minors) and search out some good prospects that have skill, potential and toughness. It’s time now for a major shakeup. This team is not a championship group by no means.

      • Hard to argue. My point was a simple forward vs. defense group and which is the biggest weakness currently.

        With the rumors of the Rangers potentially looking to move Girardi and/or Del Zotto, this defensive weakness will become even more glaring. That is what needs to be addressed the most. Toughness is part of that equation.

  • I thought Pouliot was the Ranger forward generating the most offense during the opening road trip. It just seemed like every great chance he had was just wide, off the post or drew an amazing save out the opposing goalie. He was also putting in a decent shift on the forecheck then.

    Of course he went in the tank soon after but he has bounced back nicely the past month. Who knows, maybe he puts it together finally. If not, he will be another in a long line of uber talented forwards that came to the Rangers for their last NHL shot, joining the likes of Daigle, Fata, Wolski and Christensen to name a few.

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