Nick Suzuki, still at his best in the playoffs

Nick Suzuki, still at his best in the playoffs

Between two photo shoots for the purpose of a documentary about the Canadian and Nordic struggle, last weekend, Dale Hunter allowed himself to wake up Nick Suzuki alone.

Posted on June 23, 2021

Mathias Brunet

Mathias Brunet

“He killed us in the playoffs two years ago,” said the former Nordiques center, who is actively pursuing the playoffs this spring.

His team, the London Knights, were trailing the Guelph Storm three to zero in the second round of the Ontario Junior League playoffs when Suzuki started.

The Storm were trailing again, this time three games to one, in the semifinals against the Spirit of Saginaw, when Suzuki, again, turned into a monster.

In seven games as the Storm faced elimination, the young Canadian center scored seven goals and ten points.

In the finals, André Tourigny’s team, the Ottawa 67s, led two games to zero, before suffering the same fate as London and Saginaw, despite only 12 losses of the season. Suzuki has 11 points in the last four games of this series…

Tourigny was full of praise for this young man who was already bought by Canada for Max Pacioretty.

“You see him playing against other clubs and you think you know how good he is,” he said on this page a few days after his club’s dismissal. You’re right, he’s strong, but it might be different against your 6-foot-6, 236-pound guard Kevin Bahl. He’s a different beast anyway “Bahler”. But you face him and you realize that he is capable of doing the same things against ‘Bahler’…”


Nick Suzuki with the Guelph Storm of the Ontario Junior League.

Tourigny had prided himself on his intelligence. “I thought he was very good, very smart, I thought he did a lot of good things on the ice, but when I faced him, everything was bigger. It’s his intelligence in face-offs, his way of absorbing checks, his way of protecting his puck, things a lot that makes him a very difficult player to deal with. I knew it, but I didn’t know how much.”

André Tourigny was already convinced that Suzuki would be a great match for the Canadian, but perhaps he had put himself to shame. “He will play pro, but I know the world of Montreal, it is not McDavid, MacKinnon or Guy Lafleur who will transport the crowd. He will be a very good hockey player. He will help his club win, his coach will love him and play him a lot, but he does not contribute electricity. »

He still dared to compare him to Ryan O’Reilly, the recipient of the Conn-Smythe Trophy for the most valuable player in the playoffs that year. “It will be at least a second-row man, an outfielder up 6. He reminds me a lot of Ryan O’Reilly (who throws from the left though, unlike Suzuki, a right-handed player). As with Suzuki, you have to face or guide O’Reilly to realize how much better he is than you think. He does a lot of things: he reads the game, he passes, he doesn’t make too many mistakes. These guys are hard to deal with. »

Even in the National League, Nick Suzuki seems to produce his best performance in the playoffs. The Canadiens played their most important game since 1993 on Tuesday night in Las Vegas, tied 2-2 in the semifinal series.

Suzuki first set up his team’s second goal in a remarkable way, at the start of the second half. In a gesture reminiscent of Nikita Kucherov on Ondrej Palat’s goal in Game 2 of the series between the Lightning and the Islanders, Suzuki entered the offensive zone with the puck, turned it on himself to attract defenders, then handed off to Eric Staal, all by himself. enclave.

Three minutes later, he stole a penalty from Golden Knights captain Mark Stone following a long defensive lapse on the edge of his own zone, then backhanded the puck to Corey Perry, who then found Cole Caufield well inside the box. Suzuki capped off his evening with an empty net goal.

His three points on Tuesday brought his total to 13 in 16 playoff games, second most in scoring behind Tyler Toffoli, who has one more.

Suzuki, 21, now has 20 points in 26 playoff games, averaging 0.77 points per game. He has 82 points in 127 regular season games, an average of 0.65 points per game. That person for a special occasion, they said.

Three players age 21 or younger from CH scored in the fifth game. Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki scored 13 of the club’s 35 playoff goals, for 37% of the team’s total production.

Quebec Premier François Legault was right to rejoice Tuesday evening on Twitter.