Thursday night was a bad scene for the Montreal Canadiens. Outside of Carey Price and his habitually stellar goaltending, there really wasn’t much to like. The Detroit Red Wings largely dominated the game, and the score could have been much worse if not for Price. I’m trying to keep a positive outlook this year, but there really wasn’t much to enjoy as a Habs fan last night.
Except for Price, and once again, Jonathan Drouin.
This is the second time in four games that I’ve singled him out, but I’m happy to pump his tires with the way he’s played so far this year. The line featuring him, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, and Joel Armia has at times looked raw, but there’s no denying they have the ability to create offense.
Kotkaniemi wasn’t on the ice for this, but Drouin draws an assist on this play with a very subtle pass off a Phillip Danault faceoff win. He frames out the defender, and gives the puck to Armia as he cuts through the circle and into the slot. Due credit goes to Armia for the finish, but I was very impressed with Drouin there, because it was the type of play he wouldn’t normally make last year.
It is very refreshing to see him focus on creating quality opportunities, instead of trying to do things on his own in a way that only worked for him in Junior. He’s making small, smart plays that add up instead of his trademarked hero-puck of previous years. Perhaps those summer film sessions with Dominique Ducharme really paid off.
It’s only four games into the year, but Drouin’s performance so far is an absurd improvement on last year. Four points in as many games, and as much as I can’t expect that pace to hold, I wonder what he can do over a full 82-game schedule if he keeps this up.
His individual corsi-for at even-strength was 52.94% on a night where most of the roster was sub-50 percent. Unfortunately, he couldn’t carry the team to a win, but if the rest of the team took a page from his book last night, they may have had a shot.
It’s fair for fans to be upset about the game, but even if you’re livid about it, you have to admit that Drouin was a silver lining.