MONTREAL | Nick Suzuki was only nine years old when Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have hoisted the Stanley cup for the first time at the top of their arms. Eleven years later, the Ontario will have the task of facing one of the two phenomena of the Penguins during the tour of the qualifications.
Suzuki has earned the trust of Claude Julien for several months already. Used mainly to the right wing, sometimes even in the fourth trio for the first month of the season, the number 14 was eventually obtain a place at the centre.
Before the interruption of the season, he has played several matches in the role of second centre, pushing Max Domi within a third unit. In the Face of the Penguins, Suzuki is expected to once again receive this responsibility to rotate the second trio with Jonathan Drouin on his left and Joel Armia to his right.
For a young centre 20 years, he has come a long way in just a few months.
“I don’t think so too, replied Suzuki with a smile. I have always been a center, I always wanted to compete and play against the best centers of other teams. I want to move to a higher level and I have to prove I can hold my end up against players of their calibre.”
An example with Dealer
Julien has drawn on his memories to describe the progression of Suzuki from the camp in the month of September.
“Honestly, I do not remember the time in the year where I told myself that it was no longer a centre, has noted the head coach. It was chosen to adjust with him as. For Nick, it was part of the evolution of a young player to play to the right wing of a fourth trio. We have seen it often. Brad Marchand was at the right wing of our fourth trio in the beginning of the season the year, when the Bruins won the Stanley cup. In the end, Brad was playing with Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi. “
“That’s just the evolution of a player. If a player shows a nice progress, we will make adjustments to help and use it within a better trio, he continued. At the outset, we knew that Nick could play at centre or on the wing. Even if he was trusted to the wing, it does not mean that one does not believe in its potential as a center. In October, we had Danault, Domi, Kotkaniemi and Thompson center. He played his first matches on the wing to later be at the center. Now, it is at this position that you see it and it should remain there.”
Experience three matches
In an ideal world, Julien will trust Phillip Danault in to counter Crosby. But without the last change for the first two games of this series, Julien could not have the choice to rely on Suzuki against the 87.
And if Suzuki does not jump on the ice to face Crosby, it will probably Malkin in front of him. In both cases, it will be a huge challenge.
“Crosby and Malkin are elite players of the NHL for a long time, recalled Suzuki. I’ve always watched their matches. I know this will be a series difficult. My first game against the Penguins, I was on the ice when I was on the bench. But once on the ice, I wanted to forget it and I concentrated on my game.”
This season, Suzuki has faced the Penguins three times. According to the website Natural Stat Trick, the former choice first round of the Golden Knights Vegas has spent only 3 min 06 s on the ice against Crosby and 9 min 42 s against Malkin. With just these two statistics, we can better understand the extent of the challenge which waits for Suzuki.