Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

A more seasoned, dependable Jonathan Drouin takes center stage for Lightning

ANAHEIM, Calif — Jonathan Drouin's dazzling assist Monday made all the highlight shows and left teammates shaking their heads.

But what might be more telling is that Drouin was put on the ice to protect a lead in a 2-1 win over the Kings. That hasn't happened often the past few years, showing how far the 21-year-old has come, at least in the minds of the coaches.

"It definitely does," Drouin said. "It's nice to see you get trust from your head coach."

Coach Jon Cooper said Drouin earned it. Drouin was the best player on the ice Monday. And though Drouin was seemingly playing at a different speed than everyone else, he also was in complete control. It's all coming together for Drouin, who is riding a career-high five-game point streak and has 22 points in his past 19 games. His 13 goals in 37 games this season are a big jump from the eight he scored in his first 91 career games.

"When he doesn't try to do too much and keeps it simple, he can be an extremely effective player," goalie Ben Bishop said. "When you're that young, you want to make an impact right away. Sometimes it's (better) doing the right thing and staying under the radar than trying to be noticed every single night. I think he's figuring out the happy medium of how to play, and he can be really scary out there. If he's being responsible defensively, he's going to be an All-Star for a long time."

Drouin's resurgence couldn't have come at a better time as the Lightning fights for its playoff life. Since captain Steven Stamkos' knee injury Nov. 10, no Tampa Bay player has scored more goals than Drouin (11). Only All-Star Victor Hedman has more points (25) than Drouin (24) in that stretch.

Drouin, the No. 3 overall draft pick in 2013 by the Lightning, is becoming a go-to guy for Tampa Bay, like he was in last year's playoffs. And he's also likely driving up his price tag as a restricted free agent this summer.

"I'm definitely not a young guy anymore," Drouin said. "You just get experience. You get used to the league. You feel more comfortable with your team year in, year out, and this year I'm not the guy that talks in the room and stuff like that, but on the ice I want to play like a veteran and help this team."

There have been games this season in which Drouin has been the most dynamic player. But as it is with most of the team, an issue has been finding consistency. When Drouin is moving his feet and using his speed, he can be hard to stop, like Monday, when he had four shots.

"You feel it when you go on — your legs are going, you feel comfortable," Drouin said. "(Monday) was one of those days where it felt like I had a step on someone, had time to make plays."

Drouin and veterans Brian Boyle and Valtteri Filppula have made up the Lightning's most productive line the past month.

"You see what he has done with the puck, and being so young I think his ceiling is so high," Boyle said of Drouin. "He can get better and better. It's a lot of fun. It's a treat to play with him."

Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected] Follow @TBTimes_JSmith,

A more seasoned, dependable Jonathan Drouin takes center stage for Lightning 01/17/17 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 17, 2017 8:52pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Dirk Koetter to Bucs: Take your complaints to someone who can help

    Bucs

    TAMPA — It was just another day of aching bellies at One Save Face.

    Dirk Koetter: “All of our issues are self-inflicted right now.”
  2. Bucs journal: Few complaints about Jameis Winston's play

    Bucs

    TAMPA — It wasn't enough to pull out a win Sunday at Buffalo, but a week removed from a shoulder sprain, Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston threw for 384 yards and three touchdowns against the NFL's No. 2 pass defense.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Brent Grimes (24) signs autographs for fans before an NFL game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn., on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017.
  3. Lightning's Jon Cooper uses unusual tactic to create mismatches

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Tyler Johnson is about to swing his left leg over the boards for his next shift alongside linemate Alex Killorn and … who else?

    Stamkos? Kucherov? Point?

    Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper argues the called as his team gets a faceoff violation, leading to penalty and #Caps PP goal, during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Monday evening (10/09/17).DIRK SHADD   |   Times
  4. A buzz-worthy look at the Astros-Dodgers World Series matchup

    The Heater

    Houston Astros' Yuli Gurriel is congratulated by Jose Altuve after scoring during the fifth inning of Game 7 of baseball's American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) TXMG170
  5. Florida, FSU try to ignore death threats, angry fans

    College

    GAINESVILLE — Frustration over uncharacteristically down seasons at Florida and Florida State has started to spill over from message boards and start crossing real-world lines.

    Fans watch the Florida Gators game against Texas A&M, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, in Gainesville, Fla. At the half, Florida was up 10 to 3.