Transl. from Jonathan Bernier, Le Journal de Montréal
Thursday, Oct. 26
Original article (French) : http://www.journaldemontreal.com/2016/10/26/quand-le-jeu-se-deroule-au-ralenti
In the movie The Matrix, the character played by Keanu Reeves had this special ability to avoid bullets shot at him by his enemies since he saw them coming in super slow motion mode.
Now into his third season in the NHL, Jonathan Drouin seems to develop his own slow motion ability. Take Jon Cooper’s word for it: asked for his comments on the Québécois’ early season so far, he declared that the game "is now slowing down" for the 21-year old forward.
In 6 games, Drouin already has 5 points, including two goals. When he takes possession of the puck, his reading of the play is reaching the level where he seems to guess what moves his opponents will make before reacting.
After arriving Thursday with his teammates in Montreal, where they’ll play the Habs Thursday night, Drouin took the opportunity of a meeting with the press at the Bell Center to explain this phenomenon.
"First times you play in this league, you get the puck and suddenly freak out thinking you don’t have enough time to do anything, so you rush over for any type of play and usually end up screwing over", he said after the Bolts practice. "Now, when I get the puck, I’m seeing lots of thing I didn’t see a year ago. It comes with experience, with knowledge of how guys play in this league, familiarity with our team system, as well as that of the opponents".
Drouin adds that confidence is a key factor. A player who’s confident with his ability to beat with his stick or outskate an opponent won’t have the natural reaction of getting rid of the puck as soon as possible.
The former Halifax Moosehead adds that it was during the 2nd round of last year’s playoffs, when the Bolts faced the New York Islanders, that he became more aware of the true extent of his skills.
"It just hit me. All of a sudden, I had a better reading of the play. I felt I had more time with the puck", tells the former 1st draft pick (3rd overall) in 2013. "It’s been continuing since the season began. The rhythm is just the same. I’m just building on what I did in the playoffs."
This is good news for the Lightning, Drouin being one of the key players of the Bolts’ playoffs run last spring. His 5 goals and 9 passes (14 points) in 17 games contributed in helping the Lightning to reach the Eastern Conference final
Whereas Drouin explains his greater control of the game to experience and confidence, Rick Bowness, assistant coach for the Lightning, rather thinks the forward simply maximises his natural strengths.
"He’s got this ability to put himself in these openings in other teams' defensive systems. He uses his speed to reach these unoccupied spots, which buys him time", Browness explains. "There’s so much pressure coming from behind in this league that if you don’t move your feet, you won’t have the time to do anything if the puck reaches you. But when you have his speed and skills, you can put distance between you and your opponents, and that’s where you have more time to make plays".
Over three decades behind NHL benches, Bowness saw a lot of young guys come and go. For his, we haven’t seen anything yet when it comes to Drouin.
"He’s only 21. We can already see in which direction he’s going. Let’s be patient. Give him about four or five years. Then people will be amazed at what he can do, going ‘‘Wow! What an offensive player!", Bowness says.
At this point, Drouin will perhaps see the game in super slow motion.