This has been a rollercoaster of a season for Montreal Canadiens followers. One half joyful and two components painful. However the lovely factor about hockey is that dropping doesn’t essentially imply a workforce is dangerous. The character of hockey places lots of a workforce’s destiny within the palms of the hockey gods, or luck in case you choose.
So, even at occasions when the Canadiens’ season appears to be like all however lifeless, we are able to discover some actually good performances amongst the rubble of failure. For me, the most important brilliant spot for the Canadiens is younger Nick Suzuki.
Nick Suzuki is a Revelation
In the event you comply with me on Twitter, you realize I could go slightly bit overboard in my love for Suzuki’s sport. However, I’ve been watching this workforce since Man Lafleur and Bob Gainey have been taking to the ice, and I haven’t had this sense a couple of rookie in a very long time.
Nick Suzuki, Montreal Canadiens (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)
It’s not with out irony that he arrives on this roster from one other group, as a result of he has that je ne sais quoi that has evaded the Canadiens’ beginner scouting for a really very long time; a scouting workers that appears to have prioritized bodily capability like velocity and the correct perspective present in gamers like Brendan Gallagher. I’m not saying it is a dangerous technique, solely that it’s a noticeable focus that leads to a sure kind of participant.
Okay. I’m gonna say it. Nick Suzuki jogs my memory of Steve Yzerman.— Jason Paul 🥥 (@WaveIntel) November 1, 2019Suzuki is just not of that mildew. His model is refined. He doesn’t have blazing velocity or take a ridiculous quantity of punishment in entrance of the online to claw and scrape for scoring probabilities. You need to pay shut consideration to see that he hardly ever places himself out of place, he doesn’t overextend himself in desperation to recuperate a unfastened puck, he doesn’t compromise his management and stability whereas making dekes and dealing the corners, and he’s not being wiped-out throughout puck battles as a result of he’s elusive and intelligent.
His imaginative and prescient is limitless. His faux passes and skill to place the puck on his linemates’ sticks at precisely the correct second is one thing the Canadiens haven’t seen because the 2007-08 season when Alex Kovalev scored 84 factors. He’s calm below stress, quite a bit like Canadiens’ celebrity goaltender Carey Worth. His IQ is off the charts.
Suzuki’s Already a Distinction Maker
In fact, you need some statistical proof. Beneath is a chart that plots all NHL forwards on defensive (outlined by On-Ice 5v5 Anticipated Targets Towards) and offensive capability (outlined as all state of affairs factors per 60 minutes). You’ll be able to see that Suzuki is properly located within the Distinction Maker quadrant, with comparable efficiency to Matt Duchene and Clayton Keller. Of all of the Canadiens’ forwards, solely Nick Cousins has a greater 5v5 Anticipated Targets Towards price than Suzuki, however Suzuki offers superior offensive punch.
Suzuki’s defensive consciousness is on the root of the belief bestowed on him by head coach Claude Julien. It’s the rationale the rookie’s confidence was capable of flourish and his offensive sport to develop.
His numbers are good, however once we add some context, his story is much more spectacular. That is his rookie season. He made the leap from junior proper to the NHL and not using a cease within the minors. He hasn’t been scratched as soon as. He’s averted a hunch or a drop in confidence. He hasn’t been taking dangerous, “rookie”, penalties. He’s barely performed half a season however carries himself on the ice like a five-year veteran. And these good statistics have been amassed largely with bottom-six linemates and inconsistent energy play time, typically being pushed apart in favour of veterans. A more in-depth have a look at his underlying statistics utilizing Waveintel’s VERSUS PLAYER analytical software helps uncover some fascinating particulars.
Suzuki’s Untapped Potential
For the aim of this train, I’m utilizing Duchene as a comparable. (for extra info on tips on how to interpret all the small print on the VERSUS PLAYER report, go to waveintel.org.)
Though each gamers have comparable particular person statistics, Duchene has 31 factors and Suzuki has 27 factors, the Canadiens’ rookie has far much less advantageous deployment. Duchene has precisely yet another minute of energy play time per sport, and is deployed completely within the offensive zone, whereas Suzuki has a extra even distribution of zone begins. Each gamers are superb on the facility play, however Suzuki has higher scoring charges and he outscores his Particular person Anticipated Purpose charges, which can trace to a particular participant with the flexibility to attain with no need an clearly good scoring likelihood, or it might simply be good luck contemplating the small pattern dimension. My eye take a look at sides with him being a particular participant over being fortunate, as you might need guessed.
Is Suzuki going to turn into that elusive number-one centre lacking from the Canadien’s lineup for what looks as if without end? Perhaps not, nevertheless it’s these qualities — the IQ, elusiveness, calmness — that make him an intriguing prospect; one that will ultimately fulfill the goals of Canadiens’ followers.