The Montreal Canadiens continued their comeback streak against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday night. Cole Caufield once again played the hero in a thrilling affair that saw the Habs draw even with the Winnipeg Jets for third in the North Division. But Caufield’s heroics — while definitely noteworthy — perhaps overshadowed the top performance of the night.
Nick Suzuki was the best forward on the ice last night for Montreal, and arguably the best on either side.
This year hasn’t been without struggles for him. There have been times where he looked a little lost, seemingly lacking confidence. But it seems he’s turned a corner — and done so rather aggressively — sitting at nine points in his last five games.
Three of them came last night alone. His confidence appears to be back with a vengeance, and he’s putting up these points as a focal point of a Canadiens forward group that has several key players out with injuries. There could not possibly be a better time for him to be finding the best version of his game.
The team is finally getting some help from it’s special teams, and a big part of their success on the power play is being achieved through Suzuki. Not only is he finding success with his shot, he’s able to use the threat of that shot to open passing lanes like he did last night.
This is just a sublime pass to Tyler Toffoli for the goal. Suzuki draws every Leaf on the ice — including the goaltender Jack Campbell — towards his side of the ice, only to slide it no-look to the other side for an easy goal. This type of puck movement was sorely missing from the man-advantage for most of the year, and he makes it look easy.
A functional power play is a massive help if this team wants to have a chance against the Leafs in their potential first-round matchup. You tend to see less penalties called in the playoffs, so it becomes even more important to have success when you do get those chances. Suzuki’s current performance on that front gives hope that they can expect such success.
Maintaining his current point pace will be decidedly difficult, but if he can keep playing the way he is right now, the points will come. If he can keep consistently leading the attack on the power play the way he is right now, this team might finally have the type of unit to make teams pay for their mistakes.
If this is playoff Suzuki, there is legitimate reason to be excited about the post season.