[Ed. note: As part of the build-up to the first round playoff series between the Capitals and the Canadiens, Japers' Rink will be looking at some of the important but lesser-known players on the Canadiens and how they might impact the series.]
#57 / Left Wing / Montreal Canadiens
Sep 29, 1986
Alfred, Ontario, Canada
First round, fifth overall, 2005 by the Wild
Via trade, November 23, 2009
|Strengths||Has a wiry body and plenty of shiftiness in the attacking zone. Can rack up points (with aplomb) when he's on his game. Is capable of playing both wing and center.|
|Weaknesses||Can take bad penalties, especially in the offensive zone, due to laziness. Needs to use his big frame more to his advantage and bring forth a more consistent effort.|
|Potential||Inconsistent scoring forward.|
| Playoffs ||GP||G||A||P||+/-||PIM||PPG||PPA||GWG||SOG||PCT||ATOI|
Why you should know who he is - Pouliot was drafted fifth overall in 2005 for a reason: he's a very, very skilled player; much more skilled than his basic NHL statistics indicate. The problem is that Pouliot only seems to be able to channel his talent in to productivity in short bursts - look at his nine goals in 13 games in January after scoring just four in 19 games to that point, or his nine points in 14 games in March followed by his one point in five games in April, and you get the idea. Nonetheless, while it might be an exaggeration to say that a strong performance for Pouliot could give the series to the Habs, it's certainly true that he's going to make life a lot more difficult for the Capitals if he gets going.
How the Caps can stop him - If a guy can hurt you when he gets going, naturally the key is to prevent him from getting going in the first place. By denying Pouliot space and opportunities early in the series, the Caps can hopefully keep him mired in the slump he dealt with in the season's last half-dozen games. Making life generally difficult for Pouliot - forcing him in to board battles, hitting him as often as possible, and the like - should help too.