It is rather hard to single out one player to praise in an epic Montreal Canadiens comeback win. Even more so when Carey Price was up to his habitual robbery in nets, despite giving up five goals in regulation. But in my humble opinion, Jonathan Drouin deserves a special mention for what he did last night against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
His lone point on the night was admittedly a garbage goal. He was looking for a friend in front of the net, and the puck found it’s way in off a defender. But I submit to you that such a goal often happens for players who deserve to score because of their overall play. To players who have put forth such an effort that somehow wills the puck into the net.
Jonathan Drouin had that kind of performance on Saturday night.
He was just flying out there. In an already intense game, Drouin put a hellacious pace on the opposition that was tough to cope with. He showed tremendous speed, was throwing his body around, and didn’t give the Leafs a second to breathe when he was on the ice.
Perhaps most impressively, his play away from the puck was a revelation. He made numerous checks where he could have gone for the puck, but chose to make space for his linemates by bodying an opposing player. Usually, the knock on Drouin is his defensive play, but on this night, he showed tremendous ability at both ends of the ice.
And the stats back that last statement up. At even-strength, Drouin held an individual 59.09% corsi-for according to natural stat trick. When he was on the ice, the ice was tilted in his team’s favour. It was a tour de force — he found the scoresheet, but his impact went beyond that — he was arguably the best player on the ice. Quite the effort from a player who took a lot of flack for his preseason performances.
A much maligned figure in Montreal hockey, Drouin has been called everything up to and including “overpaid.” It got to the point where Marc Bergevin was fielding questions about the possibility of trading him. That type of talk is likely to die down, and fast, if Drouin keeps playing like he did last night.
If he can keep playing like that, his team has a legitimate shot at making the playoffs. And if they make it there, he’d be a big reason why they’d do damage.
This could finally be Drouin’s big breakout year. Stay tuned.