How Jonathan Drouin has changed his game

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MONTREAL, QUE.: DECEMBER 17, 2018 -- Montreal Canadiens Jonathan Drouin waits for a faceoff during first period of National Hockey League game against the Boston Bruins in Montreal Monday December 17, 2018. (John Mahoney / MONTREAL GAZETTE) ORG XMIT: 61873 - 3469



Heading into the 2019-20 season, Jonathan Drouin looked like he had fallen out of favour with the Habs management and fans. He had finished a 2018-19 campaign where he was nearly invisible in the Canadiens’ last 20 games. So far this season, Drouin has been quite the opposite type of player. He has five goals and 10 points in 11 games thus far to start the year.

While Drouin started last season strong as well, there is a much different vibe to the start. He may have been putting up points early last season, but he’d also disappear when not producing. This season, the 24-year old Ste. Agathe native has been playing a much better two-way game. This has also lead to him creating some more chances for himself.

The main reason for this is his attitude.

Drouin’s Attitude

Forward Jonathan Drouin has had a lot of success with his new found work ethic on both ends of the ice. Photo credits:David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Drouin finished last season, answering questions from journalists about his disappointing play in the final games of the season. He stood there and held himself accountable for his poor performance. This showed that he really cared about wanting to improve. Which is a big step from the 20-year old who basically refused to report to the Syracuse Crunch when the Tampa Bay Lightning sent him down to improve his game. He instead demanded a trade and sat out a few games. It took a year but he was finally traded to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for Mikhail Sergachev.

Therefore had he not had the attitude problem, he would likely still be in Tampa Bay. Since then, Drouin showed he was skilled but seemed to lack passion at times. He always looked like he had more effort to give.

This season is a whole another story, he spent the summer watching video with coaches in order to help him improve. It has paid off dividends as his work ethic on ice has been much better all around. The effort he put in backed the words he said at the year-end interviews in April.

This attitude has taken him to be the most impressive forward so far this season. It clearly shows that Drouin has matured and wants to bring his team to success.

Drouin’s defensive game

Ever since Drouin entered the NHL, he lacked the passion to backcheck, which would make him look terrible defensively. However, it seems that the summer watching video has got him to put in the effort to be a decent defensive forward. He looks relentless now when he backchecks which

He always had the skill to produce offensively and it will always be the main part of his game, but now he has an average defensive game. The reason he will likely not disappear as much is because of the new work he puts in defensively.

The defensive game also helps him produce some more. His second goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday is solid proof of that.
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Jonathan Drouin scores his second breakaway goal of the game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday October 26th. Video Credits: NHL

 

What should we expect going forward

Drouin has clearly started the season hot offensively and it will most likely not last the whole season. Expect him to have some dry spells, but with his new found defensive game, he will not disappear on the ice.

The dry spells will likely be shorter as well. He is now using his back-checking to his advantage when it comes to creating his offense. He has also shown he can produce away from centre Max Domi, having spent time on sophomore Jesperi Kotkaniemi‘s wing to start the season. This a good sign going forward.

When I said earlier this summer, that Drouin needs to breakout, this was partly what I was talking about. He needed to find his consistency which looks like he is finding this year.

Jonathan Drouin finally looks like the 65-70 point player, the Canadiens were hoping to get when they traded for him. It should be a great for the star winger.