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Frozen Frames: What’s missing from Jonathan Drouin’s game?

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An in-depth video look at what Drouin needs to bring to the ice this season

Tampa Bay Lightning v Montreal Canadiens Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images

For Jonathan Drouin, it seems like potential has always inspired more than on-ice results. His immense talent hasn’t turned into the elite production that was expected by many in the hockey world when he was selected third overall a few years ago.

This is a decisive year for the forward. Another one.

Montreal will have to be able to lean on him every step of the way to the playoffs. He needs to drive offence if the team is to compete with many of the formations that have grown stronger in the summer.

In that perspective, it’s great news that Drouin has been taking a long, hard look at his game— a needed exercise considering his inability to help the team during a critical point of their battle to get into the post-season last year.

There is a lot that can be said about the forward’s defensive game. A good segment of the video analysis done with Ducharme certainly covered that aspect, as good defence turns into prolonged time on the offence, breakdowns, and scoring chances. But Drouin has to capitalize on his offensive opportunities when he gets them. He is one of the few players on the team that can create dangerous looks against set defences. Consistency in being able to do that will come from great offensive habits.

Some nights, it seems that Drouin is missing a lot of the elements that make up the success of some of the top players in the league. Those include, but are not limited to:

  • Changing speeds off the rush. Using his feet to misdirect and move defenders out of position and creating lanes to enter the zone with possession;
  • Staying in movement in the offensive zone, with and without possession, to find better passing lanes;
  • Attacking the slot, or the defensive box, to force defenders on himself and breakdowns in coverage;
  • Getting off the wall with the puck to create space in which to cut back and elude the defence;
  • Protecting the puck by descending lower on his skates and using his edges to extend possession time for his team;
  • Shoulder-checking more, scanning the ice before getting possession to quickly find outlets, and without possession, to give better passing support and anticipate turnovers;

Video features voice-over.

A lot of Drouin’s less desirable tendencies come from junior hockey. He dominated the lower leagues without the need of many of the above elements. He could overwhelm almost everyone else with his skill and, in the process, connect with teammates for highlight-reel plays.

That is not the case anymore. In the NHL opponents don’t rush at you, they contain. They aren’t puck-fixated, they’re assignment-focused. And they have seen most of the tricks in the bag.

Drouin’s skill and creativity never left him, but they to have be translated to the NHL through a high engagement level and by creating a foundation of better on-ice habits.