In an on-going series of experiments to establish a comfort zone for 21 year old Alex Galchenyuk, Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien announced Monday that he’s going to try him on right wing for the first time when the Canadiens play the Blues in St. Louis Tuesday. How long the experiment lasts is anyone’s guess.
Therrien told reporters after Monday’s practice, “Most of the time when (Galchenyuk) is scoring his goals he’s coming in from the right side. He’s got a quick release and we’re confident that those type of players offensively could be a threat from the right side.”
This is hardly revolutionary stuff. Among former Canadiens, Rocket Richard, Yvan Cournoyer, Stephane Richer and Mark Recchi all were left shots playing the right side on a nightly basis. Pavel Bure played his off wing, similarly future Hall of Famers Jaromir Jagr and Martin St. Louis.
As Therrien mentioned, Galchenyuk has a quick release. Coming into the zone off the right wing, his stick is positioned to the middle of the ice giving him a better shooting angle. And because the forehand is more open to the net, his one-timer from the right side can also become a dangerous weapon. (Max Pacioretty was stationed on his off-wing for his game-winning one-timer off that pass from Nathan Beaulieu on Saturday night against Columbus).
The downfall of many who try the off wing comes from an inability to consistently catch and control passes on their backhand especially along the boards and coming out of the defensive zone. Considering Galchenyuk’s skill level, this doesn’t seem to be a pressing problem.
Therrien is quick to point out, “This is something we’re going to try. We’re not sayinbg he’s going to stay there but it’s that time of the year that we’re going to make some experiments and that’s one of the experiments we’re going to try.”
Against the Blues Tuesday, Galchenyuk will play on right wing beside centre Tomas Plekanec. Lars Eller will be the left winger.
Defenseman Sergei Gonchar has been cleared of his concussion symptoms by Canadiens doctors and was back on the ice with his teammates Monday, albeit wearing a blue non-contract jersey. Coach Michel Therrien said, the issue with Gonchar now relates solely to conditioning and not any residual effect of the concussion.
The league turned a blind eye to the David Clarkson hit but Gonchar told reporters Monday, “The hit was from behind. Our game is rough enough, you don’t have to come up with such a hit.” Gonchar added, “Maybe his excuse is that he didn’t see me turning at the last moment but at the same time we should respect each other and maybe slow down when you see somebody turning his back.”
Christian Thomas practiced with a cage to protect the broken nose he acquired in the fight Saturday against Columbus forward Matt Calvert. It won’t prevent him from playing Tuesday.
Alexei Emelin didn’t make the trip. There has been no timetable announced for his return from the shoulder injury he suffered against Ottawa last Wednesday.
P.A. Parenteau (concussion) skated on his own Monday. He is on the trip but is unlikely to play in either St. Louis or Columbus.
PACIORETTY NAMED NHL’S THIRD STAR
Max Pacioretty was named one of the NHL’s three stars of the week ending February 22nd behind LA Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick and Vancouver centre Henrik Sedin. Pacioretty led the league last week with four goals and a plus-6 rating. Pacioretty is now sixth in the league with 29 goals and leads the league with a plus-33 rating and has seven game-winning goals, one behind the league leader.
Canadiens Practice Alignment Monday
Prust-De La Rose-Weise