The Montreal Canadiens have had better days in California. They left the West Coast with more injuries, their top prospect sent to the AHL, and more questions about their roster. The team needed one of its leaders to step up in a big way, and after saying he played “one of the worst games” of his career on Sunday, that player was Nick Suzuki.
He had gone through arguably the worst slump of his career, with no goals and five assists through the early going of the season. Against Detroit, he finally managed to get himself off the schneid just over two minutes into the game. The goal was vintage Nick Suzuki, collecting a pass from Tyler Toffoli, cutting around the crease and getting his first shot off, and then batting the rebound out of the air and into the back of the net.
You could see the spirit of the monkey on his back depart through the Bell Centre roof, and from that point on we saw the old Suzuki return. He was the catalyst in Josh Anderson’s third goal of the year. With a beautifully timed indirect pass off the boards, he was able to set Anderson loose at top speed. His last-second shot block also allowed Brendan Gallagher to bury the empty-net goal late in the game and seal the win.
It was a three-point night for Suzuki, and he brought much more than just offence on the night. He won 13 of his 19 faceoffs, and ended up with a 61.0% shot-attempts-for percentage, all while taking extra shifts due to the absence of Jonathan Drouin.
With eight points in 11 games, it seems that the demise of Suzuki was greatly exaggerated after the first 10 games. If the young centre is getting on track, the Canadiens may very well start to populate the win column.