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Honest effort by Pouliot

He’s not cheating up ice with his new team

By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / October 3, 2011

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In the third period of the Bruins’ preseason finale Saturday night, Benoit Pouliot went one-on-one against the Islanders’ Mike Mottau in the neutral zone of Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn.

Pouliot banked the puck off the right-side boards, fought his way through the defenseman’s check, and tracked down his own chip. As Pouliot used his 6-foot-3-inch, 199-pound frame to keep Mottau away from the puck, the wing spotted Tyler Seguin cutting toward the net.

Just before Mark Streit, Mottau’s defense partner, rotated down to seal off Pouliot, the ex-Canadien got rid of the puck off his backhand. He gave the puck to Seguin on the lip of the crease, and before Evgeni Nabokov could react, Seguin had put the puck behind him to tie the game at 2.

“First of all, I just wanted to make sure I got the puck and protected it as well as I can,’’ Pouliot said. “I knew that D was coming. As soon as I looked to my left for that D, I saw Segs stop right in front. I had no choice but to pass to him. It ended up well and it ended up in the net.’’

There is no guarantee Pouliot will be in uniform Thursday for the season opener against the Flyers. He could be in a battle for a third-line spot with Jordan Caron.

But if Pouliot continues to make strong wall plays like he did Saturday, he’ll have plenty of chances to skate on the No. 3 line. Or perhaps even higher.

“It’s not easy coming to a new team,’’ Pouliot said. “You’ve got to learn everything. In the preseason, I tried to stick to the small, little things. The big things are going to fall into place after that, like the goals and the points.

“For now, I’ve just got to learn everything that’s going on and work on the things I have to work on.’’

Pouliot has some traces of ex-Bruin Peter Schaefer in his game. Like Schaefer, Pouliot is a rangy, powerful, left-shot wing. He can protect the puck and be strong along the boards. Schaefer, however, was on the outs after an underwhelming 2007-08 season in Boston. The following year, Schaefer was waived and assigned to Providence.

The 25-year-old Pouliot should fear no such outcome. The Bruins view him as a project whose assets - size, skating, shot - could turn him into a hard-to-play-against wing with the proper coaching.

So far, Claude Julien has seen some habits that can be fixed. For example, in Montreal’s system, forwards were encouraged to cheat up the ice and stretch out opponents. No such cherry-picking is acceptable under Julien.

“He makes himself available for a pass,’’ said the Bruins coach of Pouliot. “Except that with our team, we feel that when you get a pass and you’re along against two Ds, you’re not giving yourself much of a chance. Our philosophy is maybe a little different than Montreal’s when it comes to that. We like to go up the ice as a unit more than stretching and being spread out.

“It’s an adjustment for him. He made that adjustment and was getting better as the game went on. That work he put into that goal, I liked. I really liked the second half of his game.’’

Two sent down The Bruins assigned Lane MacDermid and Max Sauve to Providence yesterday. Neither accompanied the rest of the players on the Bruins’ team-building trip.

MacDermid, the Bruins’ fourth-round pick in 2009, had an excellent camp. He skated on the fourth line and had good chemistry with Shawn Thornton. MacDermid, 22, proved he could fill in on the fourth line if injuries strike.

The tough guy (213 total penalty minutes the last two years in Providence) didn’t drop the gloves during the regular season. But in the third period Saturday night, MacDermid challenged Micheal Haley to a fight. A period earlier, Haley had bloodied Chris Clark’s nose in a scrap. Haley declined MacDermid’s invitation and MacDermid didn’t press the issue.

“MacDermid went out and tried to rectify things; he wanted no part of him,’’ Julien said of the encounter. “You can’t ask for more.’’

Saturday night, Sauve was the left wing on the third line with Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley. Sauve continues to transition from a skilled junior forward into a grittier, two-way wing as a pro. Because of his speed and hands, Sauve projects to have some Marco Sturm-like qualities as an NHLer.

Excitement building Twenty-five players, including injured defenseman Steven Kampfer, left Boston to participate in team-building activities. Of the ranks, Anton Khudobin will be assigned to Providence after the team returns to town today. But Clark and Caron should remain with the big club for Thursday’s season opener. Clark remains unsigned. If the Bruins want him around, a one-year contract near the $525,000 league minimum should be concluded promptly. Clark, 35, is also eligible for performance bonuses, which might add to the veteran’s cap number.

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GlobeFluto.

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