Brendan Gallagher knows only one way to play hockey. He does it game-in and game-out with such consistency and excellence that people like me tend to take him for granted. Because his compete level is so high every game, his games often become a footnote, quite often on this site included written in the ‘Also Worth Mentioning’ segment if mentioned at all. A good Gallagher game is just something we have come to expect as a matter of course. A bad game, or a bad shift for that matter would be newsworthy.
so, this was another in a season-long string of outstanding efforts for Gallagher with one exception. In this game he became a 30-goal scorer.
In today’s NHL thirty goals is a notable accomplishment. Thirty goals the way Brendan Gallagher scores them is truly remarkable.
Gallagher’s two goals were typical of most of the 28 he scored leading up to the Detroit game.
In the first goal, he was first on the puck in the corner and simply flung a hail-mary in front of the net from an impossible angle and saw it bounce off the skate of Danny DeKeyser and into the net to give the Canadiens their first lead of the game.
The second goal was pure Gallagher. Positioned right in the middle of the traffic in front of the Detroit goal he managed to get a stick on Mike Reilly’s shot. The changed direction caused all kinds of grief for goaltender Jared Coreau before it trickled through and into the net. Magic number 30. And the game-winner to boot. And not to be forgotten, Gallagher was right in front of the net screening as Paul Byron scored his 19th goal.
Gallagher is finishing this disaster of a season with flair. That’s nine goals in his last 15 games for the hardest working 30 goal scorer in the league. At least we have that to think about over the long summer months.
The rest of the Gallagher line wasn’t too shabby either. We always have to factor in the quality of the opposition, which on this occasion wasn’t very good. Even so , Gallagher-Jonathan Drouin and Paul Byron had a field day. Their passing was accurate, their playmaking sharp and their speed overwhelmed the Red Wings defence. Members of the line accounted for the game’s first three goals, 11 of the Canadiens 31 shots and five of their nine high-danger scoring chances.
How many of you by the beginning of December were writing off Alex Galchenyuk was one of those failed high draft picks. I know I was one of them. Then was then. It’s taken a while but Galchenyuk has finally figured it out, and he is doing things at both ends of the ice that are starting to get people onto the edge of their seats. I think there’s a way to go before his game hits it’s peak, but what we’ve seen from him the last two months is already worth the price of admission.
Some of the things coaches do, especially in the dying days of a lost season are inexplicable. Claude Julien decided to shuffle his defense, half of which is made up of rookies. Over the last couple of weeks he had been mixing experience with youth on each of his pairings. In this game he took Mike Reilly away from Jeff Petry and paired him with Brett Lernout. It turned out to be a near disaster. On the game’s first goal both Reilly and Lernout were behind the net as Gustav Nyquist was left wide open. Reilly has some potential, but his offensive forays leave his defence partner with his hands full. Lernout seemed overwhelmed by it. Hard to imagine we’ll see the same arrangement for the Pittsburgh game on Saturday.
ALSO WORTH MENTIONING
….After eight games of success in the faceoff circle, Jonathan Drouin has been below 50% the last four games. He won 6 of 13 in this game. And for all of the success of his line, it should be mentioned that Drouin also failed to backcheck on Nyqvist which was partly responsible for the game’s first goal.
….The Canadiens had seven rookies in their lineup against Detroit. You know they’re going to make mistakes, so one looks for positive things. Two that did more good things in this game than bad were Noah Juulsen on defence and once again Nikita Scherbak.
….Mike McCarron led the team with six hits and had recorded three shots on goal. I must admit I can’t remember any of the shots. The six hits are a good thing though.
….Good game for Carey Price. He stopped 26 of 28. First win in eight games.
Strange quirk in the schedule. The Canadiens now get four days off before they play back to back games this weekend in Pittsburgh Saturday and back home to New Jersey on Saturday. Then it’s Winnipeg Tuesday to start the final week of the season. Only five games left.