Jonathan Drouin catches the pass in mid-flight and is off to the races. He’s all alone, with 60 feet of space in front of him to create something magical, and he does exactly that by shifting the puck from his forehand to his backhand and back to his forehand in the blink of an eye before he lets go of the shot that beats Carey Price and gives him the third goal of his young NHL career. It his first-ever goal as a pro at the Bell Centre after a short lifetime of watching games there. One he’ll never forget. The type of play that made him the third-overall pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2013. Now would be as good a time as ever for Drouin to summon something similar. His Canadiens, mired in a hideous five-game losing streak that’s only seen them produce a total of four goals, could use a lift. He was brought here to provide one in both the best and worst of times, but hasn’t found the back of the net in 10 games. To do so on Thursday, against the league-leading Lightning who traded him to the Canadiens this past June, would surely be special. All the more so if Drouin could somehow break through defenceman Mikhail Sergachev — whom he was traded for — in the process. At least it would give the fans something to cheer for in a season that hasn’t offered them much. It might also take some pressure off the 22-year-old from Ste. Agathe, Que., who has five goals and 18 points this season — or six less than the 19-year-old Sergachev. Drouin has played centre throughout his entire hockey career, but is in his first full season at the position at this level. There have been growing pains along the way, evidenced by his level of production, his minus-18 rating and his 40 per cent (in)efficiency in the faceoff circle. But Canadiens coach Claude Julien believes Drouin is coming along.
Canadiens could use something special from Drouin vs. Lightning
Sportsnet | Jan 4