The Canadian | Despite his lethargy, Brendan Gallagher remains a threat

(Calgary) When Brendan Gallagher is upset, he speaks softly. Tuesday night, after the Canadiens’ defeat to the Winnipeg Jets, it was hard to hear what he was saying because his tone was muffled. Something was wrong.

Posted on March 3rd

Simon Olivier Lorange

Simon Olivier Lorange
The press

“I don’t know what to say,” he sighed. I’ve had lethargy before in my career, but never like this. †

Often strict with himself, this time the veteran has accurately described the situation in which he finds himself. He has not scored a goal in 17 games. Since he contracted COVID-19 and injured himself, his drought has now lasted more than three months.

Indeed, it has been unheard of since he gave his first shots in the NHL. In 2016-17, arguably his most difficult season to date, he had 10, 13 and 15 scoreless streaks. In 2013-2014, a drought stretched over 11 games. Furthermore, he has never played more than 9 games without scoring. This makes sense for a player who has scored a minimum of 28 goals, or the equivalent in a shortened calendar, 6 times with the Canadian.

“I’m trying to remember that the process takes precedence over the results,” he said again on Tuesday. In the last five or six games I’ve had good chances to score, but for some reason it doesn’t fit. I have to keep doing what I’ve always done. †

What he has always done is actually a very ambitious assignment. Because during the 2018-2019 to 2020-2021 seasons, which he spent mostly on the right side of Phillip Danault and Tomas Tatar, Gallagher was not only one of the best strikers in the NHL with equal power. He was absolutely the best.

In that window, 388 attackers spent at least 1,000 minutes on the ice in five-on-five. The Canadian winger led this group in five statistical categories. He finished second in goals per 60 minutes of play (behind only Auston Matthews) and first in expected goals, shots on target, attempts and good goalscoring (every 60 minutes).

This season is not catastrophic at all if you look at the last four indicators. Gallagher has definitely slipped, but remains in the top 25 in the NHL.

However, at five to five, usually his specialty, he still hasn’t scored in 36 games. He is not exaggerating when he regrets that the puck “doesn’t fit” in the goal.

The four successes on his record were achieved on the power play (3) or in an empty net (1). Result: Unless there is a major turnaround, this season will end with the worst offensive pick of his career.

The Hoffman case

As we have seen, in theory Gallagher is doing the right things to find the way to success. But you may still wonder which teammates can best help him in his quest.

Mike Hoffman is the number 11 player who has played with the most times this season. However, it is also the one with whom he has the least affinity.

A look at the Canadiens’ performance when Gallagher is on the ice with his most frequent playmates confirms that. When he and Hoffman skate together, CH gets fewer shots, generates fewer scoring opportunities and scores fewer goals than most of the other forwards at the club.

The best partners for him so far are Nick Suzuki, Jake Evans and Artturi Lehkonen. His association with Laurent Dauphin didn’t yield many goals, but the opportunities are there. Tyler Toffoli was also a quality accomplice, but he is no longer with the team.

It’s also hard with Christian Dvorak. Since he and Gallagher each missed a lot of action, they haven’t met in the same match since Nov. 29. Dvorak had all kinds of difficulties in his debut with the Canadiens, but after that he did better before getting injured.

In short, all is not lost for Brendan Gallagher. Like all good goalscorers, a first goal could get him a happy streak, especially if he continues to throw offense as he already does.

Maybe he can do that by staying with Mike Hoffman? Coaches to judge.

Leave a Comment