Last night, Jonathan Drouin looked every bit like the player the Montreal Canadiens hoped they were getting when they traded Mikhail Sergachev to get him. He was solid in every aspect of the game, and sits now at six points in as many games on the season. And what did he have to say after a 5-3 win, in which he put up two points?
“We can’t be satisfied. We still have work to do.”
He has always had the skills, but with this attitude — and the supporting cast around him — this year could end up being the best of his career. We got a glimpse of the chemistry he has with Nick Suzuki in last year’s playoffs, and the addition of Josh Anderson on the other wing has formed a menacing trio for the Habs. His linemates were nothing short of impressive, but it was Drouin who stole the show on Saturday night.
There’s that game breaking skill, but his impact has been much more than just on the score sheet. He seems more involved than ever on the back check, he’s throwing the body around, and he’s making key defensive plays on the rare occasions where his line finds themselves playing in the defensive zone.
That trio finished the night at 61.90% of even-strength shot attempts for. Drouin, individually, clocked in at 65.22%. The Canadiens dominated the game at five-on-five as a team, but that line was clearly their best. It’s no knock against the other two, but I felt Drouin stood out as the best among them.
They’ve been one of the best lines in the league this year. Drouin is a big part of that, as his increased effort in defending, and his ability to play either set-up man or finisher have made him a versatile weapon. He seems like he’s just having fun, which is probably easier to do with players like Anderson and Suzuki, but it’s the type of situation the Habs always needed to create for Drouin.
The scary part is that these three are still getting used to each other. as a unit They now have just six games together, so it stands to reason that the best is yet to come. For Drouin, it’s really the first time he’s had players that properly compliment his abilities and allow him to be at his best every night.
The first few seasons in Montreal, it was clear that he was trying to do too much out of necessity. Now that he has some special teammates around him, he gets to pick his spots more carefully, and it’s really showing in the overall results. As our own Jared Book already said, he’s finally able to play his game.
There was a lot of talk recently about the Habs going after a certain French Canadian star, but they already have one, and he’s off to quite the start to the year.