Daily Hab-it: The crossroads of potential
By Arpon Basu
Published Sunday, February 13, 2011 12:08AM EST
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 3:10AM EDT
The story David Desharnais is beginning to weave is just too scrumptious to ignore, even though his run of six points over the last three games will mean many may lay it on a little too thick.
But honestly? Why not.
When you're undrafted out of junior and sent to the outer reaches of professional hockey in the ECHL, not everyone would have the mental wherewithal to stick with it and pursue their dreams.
And when someone is 5-foot-7, and a generous 5-foot-7 at that, it must be even tougher.
But Desharnais has done it, and even if the ride were to end tomorrow – which it surely won't – he'll be able to say he took a twirl around the Bell Centre as the first star in a 3-0 win over the Maple Leafs on a Saturday night.
He's done it because he's not willing to allow logic defeat him, the logic that gives the man with a six-inch height advantage the upper hand in a puck battle.
No, Desharnais sees no such logic, because sometimes logic has absolutely nothing to do with it.
"I've been watching that guy for the better part of three years, and he never ceases to amaze me," Ryan White said. "It's not about his offensive ability, it's about the way he competes. I mean you've got a guy who's five-foot whatever and he out-competes guys that are 6-foot-4 every night. He battles in front of the net, he goes into the corners. When you have a guy like that, how don't you come out to play when you see him play as hard as he does."
Which brings us to another story that's developing right alongside that of Desharnais, because it's one that appears to be inspired by that kind of work ethic.
That is the story of Benoit Pouliot, whose path to this point in his career is just about the polar opposite of his new centreman's.
A fourth overall pick labelled a bust far before it was fair to do so, Pouliot is also rounding himself into a nice, consistent player. Except his level of play is unlikely to ever reach the levels projected for him, and therefore his story is far less compelling than that of Desharnais.
And that's not fair, because Pouliot has also had ample opportunities to give up.
Yet he hasn't and he's added an element of work and emotion to his game, two traits prevalent in Desharnais and his linemate for the bulk of this season, Mathieu Darche.
His 12th goal of the season Saturday night leaves him far back on the team's scoring list, nine off of Brian Gionta's team-leading 21.
But consider that Pouliot has reached that total playing 120 fewer minutes on the power play than Gionta has, and playing over 230 fewer minutes at even strength.
In other words, Pouliot is being very efficient with the limited ice time he's getting, and without the benefit of top end linemates.
It's a pretty impressive story unto itself, and I would venture to say that if this is the player Pouliot is destined to be, the Canadiens will take it.
It's not quite the fairy tale that Desharnais is living through, but it's been fun to watch two players departing from opposite ends of the expectations spectrum and meeting in the middle.
From there, they just might help carry each other to the next level.