Montreal Canadiens prospect Joshua Roy had a relatively rough start to his NHL career according to the numbers.
Of course, any time a young player makes the jump from the AHL to the NHL, a lengthy acclimatization period is to be expected, especially when you’re dealing with a prospect like Roy, who only made his professional hockey debut in earnest a few months ago.
With that in mind, Roy’s numbers in games versus the Colorado Avalanche and the Edmonton Oilers made sense. He was the player with the least experience on the team and had to face some of the best teams in the NHL.
But something changed when the Canadiens faced the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday and the Ottawa Senators on Thursday.
Roy looked much more comfortable, to the point that you would have had a hard time suggesting he was an NHL rookie if you weren’t aware that he’s just 20 years old.
Some of the magic was created by his centre, veteran Sean Monahan, as he did a great job creating time and space for his young winger, something that was quite clear when reviewing Roy’s first NHL goal.
But despite the smart play by Monahan, it’s worth pointing out that Roy did not hesitate to jump into the play, whereas the first two games of his career rarely saw him take risks.
Again, that’s perfectly normal given his situation. Every player will play it safe at first.
Comfort comes with experience, and in Roy’s case, it appears that two games were all he needed to find his ryhthm in the NHL.
— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) January 18, 2024
The Numbers Don’t Lie
To drive the point home, we can take a look at his underlying numbers in the first four games of the season.
Against the Oilers, while Roy was on the ice the Canadiens controlled a little over 35 percent of the shots, an abysmal result. Against the Avalanche, Roy was once again on the wrong side of the possession metric, once again landing near the 35 percent mark.
But against the Devils, Roy led all Montreal Canadiens players with an impressive 57 percent shot control.
And against the Senators, a game in which the Canadiens were easily outclassed and outplayed, Roy was once again the top player when it came to shot control, to the tune of almost 58 percent.
His strong showing in the last two games made a significant impact on his expected goals percentage, a predictive metric that considers factors such as shot types, locations, and more.
Roy now leads the entire Canadiens lineup when it comes to expected goals. Yes, it’s a small sample size, and we will continue to monitor his progress as the data comes in, but any time a player with little to no NHL experience produces a 63.9 xGF% early in his career, there’s cause for celebration.
All Montreal Canadiens statistics 5v5 unless otherwise noted. Via Natural Stat Trick.