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Be wary of the current hype surrounding Jacob de la Rose

There’s little doubt he’s playing better of late, but his career stats caution against getting too excited about his NHL prospects.

Toronto Maple Leafs v Montreal Canadiens Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

Montreal Canadiens head coach Claude Julien said he put Jacob de la Rose between Alex Galchenyuk and Paul Byron because he didn’t want to mess up the chemistry on his other lines. It worked out better than anyone could have thought.

In the two games versus the Red Wings he played between two of the Habs’ most skilled forwards, de la Rose controlled 61.3% of the shot attempts, was on the ice for four goals for and just one against, and accumulated one goal and three assists.

His recent success has caused a positive stir. However, it might be wise to hold reservations about it being anything but a temporary deviation in his NHL career.

Pierre McGuire went on TSN690 Tuesday afternoon for his regular 5:00 PM segment and had high praise for the Swedish centreman.

But does what McGuire said actually translate?

Below are de la Rose’s on-ice shot comparisons through his first 19 games of this season (as of December 4).

(left-right: all shot attempts, unblocked shot attempts, shots on goal, high danger shot attempts)

As you can see, McGuire wasn’t completely accurate.

De la Rose has been regularly outshot this season — and not just this season, posting a career 43.5 Corsi-for percentage.

One area that de la Rose has posted respectable numbers is in his HDCF (51.7%). This is the percentage of all the high-danger chances that occur on the ice for both teams that go in the Canadiens’ favour while he’s on the ice, and is usually a good indicator of the player’s effectivness.

However, Julien has the Canadiens as a whole doing a good job in this area, posting the league’s second-best HDCF mark at 56.2%. Unfortunately, de la Rose doesn’t stack up positively against his teammates in that area either.

As marked by the dark red area in front of the net, the Swede has allowed more dangerous shots against while he’s on the ice than his teammates without him. This while rarely taking on the opposition’s top eight skaters by ice time.

Julien also said that de la Rose has more offensive ability than he regularly uses. In last summer’s edition of Habs Top 25 Under 25, I wrote about how this may be true. However, with an insufficient five goals and 11 points in 83 NHL games, he hasn’t shown it to be true.

It isn’t crunch time just yet for de la Rose, who may truly be on an upswing. But a fourth-line hockey player, who has only contributed 0.13 points per game to this point of his career, should at least be controlling the pace of play to regularly finish in the offensive zone. So far in his NHL career, he just hasn’t done that.