A significant quote of his is telling: when he was first called up and the media were getting to know him, he explained that at every level of hockey that he’s ever played at, when he first joins the team he concentrates on defence and the role he’s supposed to play within the coach’s system. He said he did that to gain the confidence of the coach, and it would inevitably lead to more icetime and more offensive opportunities. I remember thinking what a smart kid he was, especially compared to Andrei Kostitsyn, for example.
He’s not a strong guy, but he makes up for it in quickness and agility. His assist on the Mike Cammalleri goal in Ottawa was telling, how quickly he pounced on the puck and wheeled around the net, no opponent could move in time to stop him. Along the boards, he gets low enough that opponents have a hard time getting leverage against him or getting a clean hit. He uses timing and a quick stick to steal pucks from bigger, stronger opponents all the time.
I may be partial to him since I remember how hard it was to play against quick shifty forwards. Sure, if the opposing defencemen can get a good lick on him it’ll hurt, but they seldom do. Unlike Scott Gomez, he has a variety of moves, and goes to the net or slot without hesitation, and is effective once there.
His linemates love him and want to play with him, and pout when they’re taken off his line. Max claims he’s the best player he ever played with.
This is his first full season in the NHL. He’s still young, he will improve, get acclimated to the speed, get stronger and fitter still.
The fact that he’s French-Canadian is a nice bonus. The Canadiens have a few competitive advantages. One is that they have a huge pool of hockey players who grew up idolizing the Habs, and will bleed bleu-blanc-rouge if they ever get a chance to don the jersey. I think we should use that to our advantage.