Nick Suzuki is very good at hockey, that everyone knew the moment he joined the Montreal Canadiens organization. Since graduating to the professional ranks over the summer and battling his way to an NHL job, he has only gotten better with each passing game. There were glimpses of skill, and another gear, but Suzuki played quietly but effectively to start the year.
Against the New York Islanders on Tuesday night, he brought his game up to another level, showing that there is still so much more to his game to be uncovered. He was flashy, making several incredible plays that just narrowly missed being highlight-reel goals, but that didn’t come at the expense of the other facets of his game.
In the short clip above he blows by Devon Toews, walks around another defender to create one scoring chance, then gets his own rebound at a bad angle for another that nearly bounces into the net for a goal. His ability to create scoring chances for himself and teammates is something that continues to make him one of the most dangerous Canadiens players in the offensive zone.
In his 14:24 of five-on-five ice time, Suzuki launched six pucks toward the target and had five individual scoring chances, four of them of the high-danger variety. He wasn’t the biggest producer in those categories, but he made the most of his shifts in a game his team needed to win badly.
While not the busiest looking shot chart, it shows Suzuki getting to the right areas to make plays happen. It didn’t net him a goal, but a primary assist on Jeff Petry’s game-winning goal certainly is a solid consolation prize.
His assist tonight moved him up to sixth in the rookie scoring race with 14 points, and the top three is not far off from there. If the Canadiens are pulling themselves out of this slump, then Suzuki can easily climb into that upper echelon as well.
Cale Makar has a big lead in the Calder race right now, but if Suzuki keeps up this level of play, the Canadiens rookie is going to be mentioned among the very best rookies in the league this season.