MTL32: the Golden Goose
How Erik Gustafsson's Signature Skills help the Habs
The Montreal Canadiens have a secret weapon.
But are they aware that it exists?
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Left-handed defenseman Erik Gustafsson is averaging under 10 minutes per game during the playoffs, unless he’s a healthy scratch.
But MTL32 is uniquely suited to:
Beating the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 2-3 forecheck
Helping Shea Weber play with more offensive intention
Maximizing the vision and playmaking of the Tyler Toffoli-Nick Suzuki-Cole Caufield line
Per InStat Hockey’s player and puck movement tracking, Gustafsson is extremely involved on the left side of the ice during the breakout and transition phases of the game.
According to InStat MTL32’s playing style is similar to that of several other mobile puck-moving defensemen.
All of these offensively-involved blueliners use one specific pattern to help their teams get up-ice with control: the change of side.
In the defensive zone Gustafsson is exploitable when defending 1v1 in front of the net. However when paired with an effective partner who wins pucks battles along the boards, MTL32 can jump into space and provide a valuable out on the weak side of the ice.
This is a great pattern to get the most out of MTL6 Shea Weber:
In the neutral zone Gustafsson is adept at carrying the puck through the middle of the ice. This opens up more change-of-side opportunities for slower teammates hunting for space on the right flank.
This is a great pattern of play to get the most out of MTL73 Toffoli and MTL14 Suzuki:
MTL32 only plays 11 shifts in Game 1, including six in the third period, when MTL is chasing the score.
Here are a few of the most note-worth clips:
The Goose has more to give if provided the opportunity.
Let’s see if MTL turns him loose with his best four partners in Game 2.