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Alex Newhook is a (very) good winger
The Canadiens ended their four-game losing streak last night in Anaheim. Thanks to Samuel Montembeault for his many saves, especially late in the game!

But Sam wasn’t the only important factor in the away win; Alex Newhook scored the game’s first goal early in the first, as well as the game-winner late in the third. He opened and closed the scoring.

Newhook was the third most-used forward last night (19:12), behind Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield Sean Monahan. He also finished the game with a plus-2 differential and left the arena with the first star.

On November 2, I wrote that Newhook was not a good center.

Three weeks later, I repeat my take with a statement that will earn me a little less hate this time: Alex Newhook is a very good winger.

(Credit: YouTube (screenshot))
Newhook, whom Kent Hughes acquired last summer in return for two picks between the 30th and 40th selections, got his season off to a flying start with two goals against the Maple Leafs (in Toronto). He was employed on the wing that night.

He was quickly moved to center for the second game of the season, following Kirby Dach’s injury. He was used at center until Christian Dvorak’s return on November 4.

Overall, he collected 1 goal and 2 assists in 8 games and three shifts as a center, maintaining a minus-6 rating.

When Dvorak was finally fit to return to action, Newhook reverted to winger. He collected two points in six games, wandering all over the top 9

But he’s currently enjoying his best spell of the season when used alongside Nick Suzuki on the top line: Newhook has three goals and two assists in the CH’s last three games, two of which were away from home.

That gives him 5 goals and 4 assists in 10 games on the wing… and a plus-1 rating.

For those interested: Newhook has six goals (and six assists) in 19 games this season. And all six goals have been scored at even strength.

It’s obvious to me that a guy like Newhook, relatively small and whose primary quality is his speed, is more at home on the wing than at center in the best hockey league in the world. He has less need to retreat deep into his territory and can therefore think more about scoring goals. What’s more, his speed allows him to create space in his lane, especially in the neutral zone and on zone entries… and the fact that he’s not very physical is more forgiving when he has to watch the defenseman at the point than when he has to try to prevent the third forward from scoring in the slot.

Martin St-Louis has started to be Michel Therrien’s circus guy, juggling his trios a lot. I just hope he doesn’t come up with the idea of moving Sean Monahan to the wing on the first line… and sending Newhook back to center on the second or third. That wouldn’t help either the CH’s or Newhook’s cause.

Newhook may be the Habs’ best winger right now.

Cole Caufield has scored just one goal in his last 12 games (and that was 3-on-3), Josh Anderson has just two measly assists in 19 games (despite an annual salary of $5.5 million), Tanner Pearson has slowed down, Juraj Slafkovsky has good AND not-so-good moments, Brendan Gallagher is doing well according to our expectations, but…

Come to think of it, the CH’s two best wingers right now are Alex Newhook and Jesse Ylonen. And I prefer Newhook to Ylonen.

You know, when we say that the CH has attacking problems and needs to find raw talent to remedy them.

Whatever. One thing remains certain: Alex Newhook is better on the flanks than at center. Let’s not try to fix something that isn’t broken.

Extension

I’d like to remind you of our brand-new contest, organized in partnership with BPM Sports: we’ll be sending two fans to watch – all expenses paid – the game between the Blackhawks and Senators in Ottawa on March 28. And, of course, it’s a chance to get up close and personal with the phenomenon that is Connor Bedard.

Signing up couldn’t be easier; just visit http://www.superpools.ca/concours. Good luck!

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