Yesterday’s game against the Maple Leafs was Romanov’s first match in the NHL with the Montreal Canadiens. Although his team didn’t manage to win, instead losing 5-4 in overtime, Romanov was extremely good for the Canadiens in their loss.
Excluding the 3-on-3 overtime, the Moscow native played over 20 minutes in his baptism by fire in the National Hockey League. He was used in all situations by Head Coach Claude Julien, a scenario that could repeat itself many times this season if the youngster continues playing with similar poise and maturity, drawing the praise of the coaching staff and his teammates.
It is important to note that despite his inexperience Romanov’s defensive game was on full display last night, and that it is very well-developped at this point and time, with potential to become even better as he matures as a player. Of course, he still made some minor mistakes in defensive coverage, was guilty of slight hesitations chasing after the puck carrier, and lost his man once or twice by virtue of getting caught watching the puck. That said, these were all minor errors, and heavily outweighed by the many good and intelligent plays he made.
Despite his strong defensive game overall, it is in distributing the puck and in transition that Romanov shone the most against Toronto. His passes were not only precise and on the tape, but the timing and »touch » he demonstrated while dishing the puck to teammates was admirable. And the young defenseman even took Toronto’s defense by surprise a couple times using deft saucer passes. The assist that he got on Tatar’s breakaway goal comes to mind as a good example of the passing abilities he displayed last night.
Romanov was really good last game, but will need to show consistency to reach his full potential.
Saucer passes such as the young Habs’ player showed against the Leafs are amongst the hardest plays to make game-in, game-out, and as such only the elites of the NHL are able to complete these plays with any degree of consistency.
Although Romanov most probably won’t succeed in connecting with such high-difficulty passes every game, the simple fact that he has the confidence in his abilities and finesse to distribute the puck in such a way is very encouraging as far as how high his ultimate offensive potential in the NHL might be.
This first game in the NHL might only be a small taste of what Alexander Romanov’s career will be, nothing more than his debut in North America if you will, but he still passed that first test with flying colors. Now he only needs to ace the second one, then his third and so on.
If the youngster continues playing with such confidence, such poise as he showed against the Leafs, the sky might just be the limit for Romanov.