Thursday night was an unfortunate continuation of the Reverse Retro curse for the Montreal Canadiens. One could easily argue that they deserved to get the win over the Winnipeg Jets this time, but the dreaded overtime frame has not been kind to these Habs, and it was once again their undoing.
But there was one player who had a particularly impressive night. Jonathan Drouin was a silver lining worth singling out in this loss. He actually ended up having a direct hand in both game tying goals for his team on the night.
First, he followed the puck up to the point to support his defence, and ended up firing a point shot that found it’s way in off Tyler Toffoli’s skate. Not the prettiest goal you’ll ever see, but a smart play to put the puck on net given the traffic that Toffoli and Nick Suzuki were creating out front.
In the third period, after the Jets had taken a 3-2 lead, he ate a pretty nasty high stick in the middle of the ice that went uncalled. He was understandably in a fair bit of pain, and incensed at the lack of action from the officials. But he didn’t wallow in self pity, or allow it to bring him down.
Instead, he came back out flying, and was arguably the best forward on his team for the final minutes. This culminated in him getting a high-slot tip on Jeff Petry’s point shot, tying the game for the second time.
Drouin gets the re-direct to tie the game with the extra attacker! pic.twitter.com/3BuOl6YfJd— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) March 5, 2021
The goal would later be changed to an assist — Corey Perry ended up getting a final deflection — but the common denominator in both game-tying goals for the Habs was Drouin. It was very encouraging to see him lead two small comebacks, as disappointing as it was to see it end the way it did in overtime.
After the game, he gave praise to his coach Dominic Ducharme. Ever since Drouin took time over the summer to watch film with Ducharme, he seems to have gotten progressively better. His forecheck has been more tenacious, he’s better positioned, and so far this year it’s paying off relatively well on the scoresheets.
If there’s one gripe I have with his game this year, it’s that he doesn’t shoot enough. He had a few chances last night where a shot would have been better than the pass he tried to make instead. I don’t know what Ducharme can do to instill some more shooting confidence in him, but it seems to be about the only thing missing from his game right now.
The Habs still have a lot of work to do in getting where they want to be, but if they can expect regular efforts like that from Drouin