If what we’ve seen over the last 20 games is the real thing, we might be adding Alex Galchenyuk’s name to a select group of players that can move a crowd to the edge of their seats every time they come on the ice.
It was that way Tuesday night at the Bell Centre. Galchenyuk’s line produced a glorious scoring chance a minute into the game and never stopped. For the 22-thousand watching, between appearance of the Galchenyuk/Pacioretty/Andrighetto line it was a night of hardworking lunchbucket style hockey. But every fourth shift was magic. Galchenyuk made it work. He was far and away the game’s best player; better even than Dallas forwards Tyler Seguin or Jamie Benn. He scored twice including the game winner in overtime and added an assist. He has an other worldly nine goals his last seven games and eleven over the last nineteen. And he is one goal away from overhauling Max Pacioretty for the Canadiens goalscoring lead. Who would have predicted that. I think it was clear to everyone who watched him tonight that Chucky has finally figured out what it takes to make his always evident skill set work at the NHL level.
Thanks to Galchenyuk the Canadiens won the game against a team that has the highest scoring team in the league. Galchenyuk may have been in on three of the four goals but the rest of the team did a pretty good job of holding the most potent offense in the league to three, which is below their season average of 3.2 per game. Eller and Gallagher joined the other seven on the injury list. Every excuse to pack the game in, but once again the kids and the remaining veterans worked their asses off.
The Canadiens recorded forty hits in the game. I can’t remember a game this season where they pounded the opponents to that extent. Mike Brown, who was making his Bell Centre debut, had nine of the hits. That’s nine hits in only ten minutes of ice time.
Phillip Danault scored his first goal as a member of the Canadiens but what is more eye-catching is the nine faceoff wins in twelve attempts. Danault has now won 48 of 69 faceoffs in his seven games with the team, an extraordinary 72%.
Stefan Matteau was the other trade deadline acquisition. He came to Montreal with a lot of question marks next to his name. On a line with Plekanec and Byron he got a lot more icetime that he has seen this season and didn’t look too much out of place, especially from a physical standpoint.
I really like the progress Greg Pateryn is making, especially the way he’s moving the puck and using his shot from the blueline. He took five of them in the game, three on goal. And he has a shot. Don’t forget those team-leading 15 goals he scored with Hamilton two seasons ago.
With a berth in the playoffs out of the question, for everyone is auditioning for a spot on the roster next season. There a lot of kids in Montreal right now who are determined not to waste the opportunity.