I suppose we’re destined to spend the next decade arguing whether Alex Galchenyuk is a centre or a a left winger. I’m one of those who thinks he’s better on the left side, but who cares where he plays if he continues scoring goals at his current rate.
Galchenyuk scored two more Saturday night in the 4-2 loss in Winnipeg. That gives him seven in the last six games, two of them while playing centre and five while on the left wing with Tomas Plekanec. He has nine in his last 11 games and, dating back to January 26th, he has 11 goals in 18 games. We should note again that through the first 48 games as an entrenched centre, he scored only ten.
The two goals in Winnipeg gave him a career high 21 with 16 games left. At ripe old age 22 Galchenyuk is finally figuring it out.
And a sure sign of a great player is how he can make those around him better. With Galchenyuk as his centre, Max Pacioretty played his best game in weeks. The assists on both Galchenyuk goals showed persistence that has been missing from his game through most of the season. His between the legs goalmouth pass Galchenyuk’s first goal was highlight real stuff. And his second assist came because he refused to quit on a play after he was stopped on a breakaway. Pacioretty posted 6 shots on goal. Somebody had to be giving him the puck a lot.
GALLAGHER GOES DOWN
The bad news is Brendan Gallagher who was hurt sometime in the latter stages of the first period. He feel awkwardly to the ice under a check by Jets centre Marko Dano. It didn’t look good. Either a knee or a groin. It’s now wait and see. There are already seven on the Canadiens injury reserve list and man games lost this season is almost double last year’s total.
Michael McCarron is going to be given a sixteen game chance to learn while on the job. Offensively he’s a force. He had six shots on goal. He even got some time on the power play although not even his very large presence can help the direction that part of the Canadiens game is taking. McCarron was also on the ice for three of the four Winnipeg goals, although to be fair one of those was the empty netter. He may have some defensive issues but it seems to me the American Hockey League is not going to teach him anything more. He needs the pressure of NHL competition to hone his game. His next 16 games will be a cram course.
P.K. Subban coughed up another puck at his own line and this one led to the first of Mark Scheifele’s three goals. In defense of Subban, he was at the tag end of a shift that was 2:11 long. He had the puck while his teammates were changing after skating through an entire Canadiens two-minute power play advantage. He was ripe to have his pocket picked and Scheifele is a player who has the ability to do it.
So here we are. The Canadiens lost all four on the road trip. They come home to face Dallas Tuesday night. Sixteen games remaining in the season and outside of the emergence of Galchenyuk, the conversation in Montreal will be the draft lottery. If it were held Sunday morning the Canadiens would be drafting 9th. They’ll have to do some serious losing to improve on that. If Gallagher winds up on injury reserve, anything is possible in this train wreck of a season.