Jonathan Drouin is an immensely talented player. That has never been disputed from the day he was drafted by Tampa Bay. It was never doubted that he was incredibly skilled when he was traded to Montreal, he just needed to find some consistency in his game to reach his potential. Recently Drouin went through one of his slumps where his play suffered and he would be mostly invisible in games.
On Sunday, Drouin was the catalyst in the Montreal Canadiens’ offence, and thrilled fans with a dazzling end-to-end goal in overtime against the Edmonton Oilers. He followed that up with a three-assist night against the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday. Not only was Drouin the straw that stirred the Canadiens’ proverbial drink, he did it as part of a lineup missing three of their regular forwards.
All three of his assists were of the primary nature, and all of them were because he was in the play, getting himself into the right spots, and using his passing talents to their fullest extent. With Tomas Tatar and Paul Byron both missing the game, Drouin found himself alongside Brendan Gallagher, whose shot-heavy game is a perfect fit for Drouin’s playmaking style.
Staying in the play helped Drouin immensely against Anaheim as his passes didn’t need a ton of time to set up, and every little bit of space he was given (and there was a lot) ended up as a goal or scoring chance. On Gallagher’s first goal he trailed the play, grabbed a loose puck, and set up the one-time goal. For Gallagher’s second he kept up with the play, collected his own blocked attempt then fired off another one-time setup. His third assist came when he used his speed to draw Cam Fowler away from the net, and backhanded an easy setup pass to Phillip Danault.
Jonathan Drouin was at his best against the Ducks, using his skill and vision to pick out passing lanes and teammates for goals all night. He’s not going to have three assists in every game, but if he plays like this down the stretch of the season he’s going to shatter his career best production with ease.