To what do we owe the pleasure of fun hockey again? That is a question with about as many answers as there are players in the Montreal Canadiens lineup.
The most obvious choice is centre depth. The less obvious choice within that is Jake Evans.
Currently sitting with 14 points in 16 games played, what could I possibly say about Nick Suzuki that hasn’t been said? I think the main takeaway there is the fact that he was always going to be okay, it was just a question of how long it would take.
But, as a player drafted in the seventh round and who played out his full tenure in the NCAA, the same could not be said for Evans. But boy, is he playing some nice hockey.
In the last six games at five-on-five, he leads the team’s centres (those who have played more than two games) in: Corsi-for (shot attempts), expected-goals-for , and high-danger-chances-for percentages.
Now, in fairness, Evans is not taking as many defensive-zone draws as Suzuki and Christian Dvorak are. He takes the third-most per 60 minutes of Montreal’s centremen, and that number has been consistent all year. However, in the last six games he went from taking the third-most offensive-zone faceoffs by a centre to the second-most, supplanting Dvorak. In those six games Evans has the second-highest goals-per-60-minutes mark, behind only Ben Chiarot.
Maybe he’s been miscast all along. I used to refer to him as a Phillip Danault light: defensively responsible, good forechecker, little finish. But, if this level of play continues, I may have a large helping of humble pie on my plate.
Certainly goals like this show a lot more finish than I realized.
I just want to watch this on a loop forever pic.twitter.com/lxpxzjorlI— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) November 10, 2021
I think we’re seeing this coaching staff (finally) show more willingness to explore their options, and has been a beneficiary of being allowed outside of how he was typecast. He certainly seems to be every coach’s dream, the kind of player who grabs on to each opportunity and works his way up the ladder.
This isn't to be unfair to other players. I think every player is different. Some players need to be handed a top-six role in order to succeed and others can work their way up there. It's up to a good coaching staff to determine which player is which and how best to develop or use them. Fortunately for all those involved, Evans is one of those guys that seems to relish every challenge.
So bravo Jake, if this is how it feels to be proven wrong, I hope I’m wrong daily.
The lawn is mowed #Habs are currently 12-2 when I mow my lawn— Dylan Waugh (Habs-statician) (@HStatician) June 28, 2021
So I'm doing my part facing this crazy heat
Also, is it a good omen that @jakeevans79 uncle stopped by to say hello?#GoHabsGo #MTLvsTBL #StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/q5JEslJa5g