In the past three seasons, no Canadiens player has directed more shots at the net than Brendan Gallagher. Two years ago, he tested opposing goalkeepers on 302 occasions!
To do as much as his fiery teammate would perhaps set the bar a little high. However, Jesperi Kotkaniemi has every intention of drawing more often.
“I like to pass the puck and I like to shoot on goal. On the other hand, I believe that, this year, I should be a little more active in shooting. I had started doing it in the bubble. It allowed me to score and help the team win. “
In the Toronto bubble, Kotkaniemi had hit the target four times. A top within the team, tied with Nick Suzuki. Four goals on 11 shots. We are talking about a success rate of 36.4%. Quite impressive.
If we go by the words of Jake Allen, who earlier this week called his new teammate’s shot “a shot in a class of its own”, we can deduce that the velocity of it is is further improved.
“We always thought he had a good shot. Even in his first year. We were surprised by the heaviness of the throw he had for an 18-year-old player. Two years later he is now stronger and has gained experience, said Claude Julien. It makes his shot even more powerful. “
“It has become a very effective weapon. And we want him to use it more and more, he continued. He’s definitely going to score a lot of goals if he uses it the right way. “
Moreover, count on the Franco-Ontarian to remind him often.
“I had this kind of discussion with Max Domi. I told him to think more about shooting on goal. That season, it had helped him a lot [il avait marqué 28 buts]. Sometimes you have to be selfish with the puck, ”he said.
In a favorable position
Julien intends to place the attacker in a situation where he can use his shot. Starting with the massive attack, where Kotkaniemi will have the opportunity to launch from the top of the faceoff circles.
“By placing him on the reverse side, we hope he can use his arsenal. It is certain that he has a good shot on reception. But he can also use his wrist shot. His quickdraw is very quick, ”explained the Canadiens head coach.
“I feel as comfortable as a playmaker as well as a shooter. Whether it’s me or You dont have [Tomas Tatar], we will try to send pucks to the net, hoping that something good will result, ”said the principal concerned.
At equal strength, as a center player, his mandate will, at first glance, be to feed his wingers: Tyler Toffoli and Joel Armia.
If there’s one who likes to use his shot, it’s the former Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks player.
The Ontarian usually draws more than 200 times a season. In 2017-18, he hit a personal high with 251 shots.
Will veteran Toffoli’s presence at his side limit the young athlete’s intentions? Julien hopes that it will be rather the opposite effect.
“Toffoli can serve as an example. But, it can also encourage him to shoot more. A youngster is much more comfortable when a veteran comes back to the bench and tells him that he shouldn’t try to hand him the puck at all costs rather than hear him whine because he didn’t give him a shot. past. “
Profitable stay in Finland
Kotkaniemi has been impressive since the start of training camp. Visibly more confident in his abilities, he didn’t hesitate to use his body, to rush to the net, to fight for the puck and even to perform a few risky feints during the mock game on Friday morning.
This bodes well, as preparation time was kept to a minimum before the start of the season. The 10 matches he played in Pori (his hometown), in La Liiga of Finland, in October and November, are undoubtedly not unrelated to it.
“I think it will help me. These games in Finland allowed me to experience the intensity of a match. It’s as if I had the opportunity to play preparatory matches. It makes me ready. “
Kotkaniemi took advantage of this extended stay in Finland to work on his skate with a personal trainer. He seems rather proud of the result.