Driven by the fact of playing for the team of his childhood, Quebecer Mike Matheson has found his niche in Montreal. Right after Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield, the surprising defender ranks third with the Canadiens this season in terms of points per game.
“To be able to play here in Montreal, where I grew up, it's a really special opportunity and it's a fact that I don't want to take for granted,” the 29-year-old athlete from Pointe-Claire said after the game. won 6-2 against the Washington Capitals on Thursday night.
The defender had just added three assists to his record during this game. Despite missing numerous games with an early-season abdominal and lower-body injury, Matheson took the opportunity to surpass his career high of 31 points set in 2021-22 with the Pittsburgh Penguins. campaign during which he took part in 74 games.
“It feels good, but I don't look too much at my personal statistics,” admitted the man who has 33 points in 45 games so far this season. There are a lot of games where I played and where I was really happy with my game, but I finished without any points. On the other side, I know there are games where I had a lot more to give and I could finish with two assists.”
Anyway , Matheson is averaging an astonishing 0.73 points per game. Not only does he track Suzuki and Caufield, but he easily dominates all CH backs, with rookie Kaiden Guhle the closest at 0.41.
“Obviously, collecting points is what helps your team win games, but what each player brings to a game is much more than that.”
Exactly, Matheson also finished the game against the Capitals with a differential of +4.
Nine points on the power play
At the NHL level, Matheson ranks 16th in points per game among all guards who have played 45 or more games. He is ahead of several big names like Drew Doughty, Kristopher Letang, Victor Hedman and Thomas Chabot, to name a few. He's also well ahead of Jeff Petry [and his 29 points in 58 games], who he was traded from by the Penguins last July.
Without a shadow of a doubt , the CH made a big move when they acquired Matheson and a fourth-round pick in the 2023 draft for Petry and Ryan Poehling.
“I definitely have more opportunities to play in different roles [with the Canadian], including on special teams, noted Matheson. I worked hard to get these opportunities.”
The Quebecer therefore scored nine of his 33 points on the power play. Unusually, he had two shorthanded assists on Thursday against the Capitals. Overall, it should be noted that the defender has been used on average for 24 minutes and 31 seconds per game this season. Last year, he was under 19 minutes in Pittsburgh.
A matter of pride
The Quebec defender could now add a few points to his harvest, while the CH still have three games to play, including Saturday night's game against the Maple Leafs in Toronto.
“I am a competitor, c It's in my DNA, Matheson said, in an attempt to explain his most recent successes. I am unable to have the attitude to take it easy for the rest of the season, regardless of our position in the standings. I can not do that. It's true in hockey, but also in everything I do.”
Best average points per game for CH this season (with a minimum of 30 games played)
1 – Nick Suzuki… 0.80
2 – Cole Caufield… 0.78
3 – Mike Matheson… 0.73
4 – Kirby Dach… 0.66
5 – Rafaël Harvey-Pinard… 0.61
Credit to Martin St-Louis
< p>Quebec defender Mike Matheson gives some credit to head coach Martin St-Louis for his offensive success in his first season with the Montreal Canadiens.
“Martin does so much a good job advising each player on an individual basis, boasted Matheson. It's natural for a coach to focus on the whole team, he already has so much to think about, but I believe Martin is the coach I've had who takes the best care of each player. individually.”
“When you improve an individual, it affects the success of the team,” added the defender.