When teammates talk about JG Pageau, they often cite the little things he does on a nightly basis that go largely unnoticed. Though he has 20-goal potential, having scored 26 in just 67 games back in 2019-20 when he isn't finding the net (he was scoreless in his previous nine before last night), the value he brings to the lineup is well understood.
"He's just responsible all the time. There are a lot of little things that he does that maybe don't get noticed, they sure do by his teammates and the coaching staff. "Just a responsible guy that is taking the challenge of playing against the other teams top lines every night, relishes that and does a really good job with it."- Lane Lambert on Pageau
Then there are games like last night, when his value is there for all to see, as it was on the first goal of the game - a play Pageau started and finished. He started this play by causing a turnover at the Islanders’ blue line, The 30-year-old center then chased the puck down before dropping it off to Hudson Fasching, who made a strong move to get off a shot that squirted through Blue Jacket's goaltender Joonas Korpisalo. Pageau was there to bang it in across the redline for a 1-0 lead at 7:12 of the second period.
After the game, Lane Lambert emphasized the team's defensive performance. In ways, it was more encouraging than the five-goal efforts in the previous two home games against the Florida Panthers and Pittsburgh Penguins. It's the type of game that a player like Pageau excels at and one the team collectively would like to produce more often as they start a four-game road trip to begin 2023.
“That’s the way we want to play, be hard to play against,” Pageau said. “When you play well defensively, I always thought that creates offense. ... Every team has good players, it’s the NHL, the best league in the world. You can’t take any team lightly. They are a hard-working team, well-coached. I thought we did what we had to do to win that game.”