Earlier today, Sean Tomlinson raised the point of Benoit Pouliot’s playoff ineffectiveness.  Pouliot is a healthy scratch tonight against Boston, and this is the second straight playoff where he has underwhelmed with his performance.

After the jump, a look at Pouliot’s “clutch” play, the contrast (or lack thereof) between this season and last season, and his lengthy goal drought.

Pouliot’s playoff ineffectiveness stretches back to the dawn of his professional career.  As a junior, he was actually quite good in the post-season.  In 2004-05 (his draft year) he scored six goals and added eight helpers in 12 playoff games.  The next season he scored eight goals in eight playoff games.

But things changed as a professional.  By the numbers:

  • AHL: 25GP – 1G – 7A – 8PTS, –8
  • NHL: 22GP – 0G – 2A – 2PTS, –4

I don’t know that I’d draw any conclusions from that; as we’ve mentioned previously even a dynamo like Pavel Datsyuk took a while before he became a capable playoff performer.

What I do draw some conclusions from is Pouliot’s play this season, which seems to have established him as a pretty good even-strength scorer:

Season Team GP PP PTS/60 EV PTS/60
2009-10 Montreal 39 4.26 1.95
2010-11 Montreal 79 0.95 2.06

Last year, I had looked at his post-deadline success with a good deal of scepticism, and when he imploded in the playoffs it seemed to be warranted.  I’m finding myself re-evaluating that take now; particularly since Pouliot’s done a very good job according to the possession metrics and that’s despite a good but not great zone-start.

That’s interesting to me.  More interesting is how Pouliot’s shooting has changed over his lengthy stretch-drive goal drought.

Games Goals Shots Shots/GM SH%
First 55 13 90 1.64 14.4%
Last 24 0 39 1.63 0.0%

So, over the first two-thirds of the season, goal-scoring forward Benoit Pouliot fired 1.64 shots per game.  Over the last third of the season, hopelessly stone-handed Benoit Pouliot fired 1.63 shots per game.  The fact that there is almost no discernable change is even more remarkable given that Pouliot’s ice-time dropped off as his goal-scoring fell; he went from averaging 16.75 shifts per game down to 14.33.  I tend to believe this was mostly a shooting percentage aberration than any real change in performance, and so Pouliot’s drought doesn’t really worry me.

Despite my general optimism towards Pouliot, I don’t think Jacques Martin was overly wrong to scratch him.  He hasn’t fired a shot in 30 shifts of playoff hockey, and a game in the press-box might help straighten things out.