Jonathan Drouin says he is at all times raised his recreation when the stakes are highest.
It began in minor hockey, continued when he graduated to junior — simply have a look at his stat traces from three post-seasons as a member of the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads — and stored going early in his NHL profession.
With the Montreal Canadiens handed a lifeline ought to the league resume its pandemic-hit 2019-20 marketing campaign this summer time, Drouin is trying to proceed that development of massive performances in massive moments.
“My recreation simply goes up in playoff hockey,” the 25-year-old stated on a convention name Wednesday. “As a child, it was hockey tournaments … and junior days, it was the identical factor.”
Drouin put up 102 factors in 50 profession playoff video games with Halifax, together with an eye-popping 41 in 16 contests again in 2014. He registered 9 factors in 4 outings as a part of the Mooseheads’ Memorial Cup victory the earlier spring and added 13 factors in 13 appearances throughout two stints with Canada on the world junior hockey championship.
The native of Sainte-Agathe, Que., then contributed 14 factors in 17 video games on the age of 21, in 2016, because the Tampa Bay Lightning made the NHL’s Japanese Convention last.
“When playoff hockey comes round there is a totally different feeling,” Drouin stated.
‘We’re very lucky’
Regardless of sitting 24th out of 31 groups when the league was compelled to pause its season in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadiens snuck below the wire and into the 24-club format unveiled final month.
Montreal, which had simply 71 factors from 71 video games and was all however mathematically eradicated from playoff rivalry, would face the Pittsburgh Penguins within the best-of-five qualifying spherical for a post-season berth below the plan.
“If it was common playoffs we would not be in,” Drouin stated. “We’re very lucky…. I do not assume we wish to waste that chance.”
The third decide within the 2013 NHL draft can also be hoping for the chance to recapture his success from the autumn.
Drouin blasted out of the gate in October with seven targets and 15 factors in 17 video games earlier than struggling an wrist damage in mid-November the wanted surgical procedure.
Acquired in a commerce with Tampa Bay for defenceman Mikhail Sergachev in June 2017, he returned to the lineup February 8, however was held off the scoresheet in eight video games when an ankle downside as soon as once more compelled him to the sidelines.
“I felt far more snug in these first couple months of the season than I’ve ever been in Montreal,” stated Drouin, who signed a six-year, US$33-million contract with the Canadiens the identical day he was acquired from the Lightning.
“We had been profitable, we had been pleased with our recreation. It was the identical for me. Everybody was going up in the suitable course. That [wrist] damage was a blow, however the best way I used to be feeling was a very powerful factor. The remainder comes once I’m skating and I am across the puck.”
Coaching and analyzing video of previous video games
Participating in a collection of casual on- and off-ice exercises with a handful of teammates at Montreal’s apply facility as a part of Part 2 of the NHL’s return-to-play protocol, Drouin stated he examined video of his performances when he was injured and once more after the NHL went on hiatus.
“I wish to seize what I did in that first [part of the] season and convey it for each time hockey begins,” he stated. “The explanations I used to be enjoying nicely, the explanations I used to be skating … you have a look at these issues.”
But to surpass 53 factors in an NHL marketing campaign, Drouin stated, he additionally watches clips of gamers with related types — he referenced Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner as one — to attempt to incorporate totally different components to his device belt.
“You undergo some stretches the place you are good at some areas, and a few areas you are good at for a month and you are not good for a month,” he stated.
“You attempt to nitpick.”
And Drouin, who stated he hasn’t had any lingering points with both damage after hitting the ice for the primary time in three months this week, is assured he can recapture his early-season kind.
“I can get again to that vitality I had, that tempo,” he stated.
“I noticed I might be an impression participant each evening if I present up and play the sport I am imagined to play.”
That may be a giant increase for the Canadiens as they goal to write down the primary chapter of what may finally become an unbelievable story.
“I am not nervous to go in for this qualifying spherical,” Drouin stated. “I play nicely in these moments.”