Alex Galchenyuk’s improved play of late could not have come at a better time for the Montreal Canadiens. He has helped the team win five of their last seven games. It has been a nice turnaround for Galchenyuk. The beginning of this season was rocky. The Canadiens brass was not happy with Galchenyuk’s play and this saw him bounce around the lineup before settling on the fourth line. Until recently, his improved play has not meant an increase in ice time. That changed this weekend, as Galchenyuk was moved onto the top line. It produced immediate results and seemingly instant chemistry between Galchenyuk and Jonathan Drouin.
Montreal Canadiens and Alex Galchenyuk Make Improvements
Start Of The Season
Galchenyuk’s play was uninspiring to start the season. It seemed like he was on a different page from his linemates and from the coaching staff. Whether the cause was from his position change or the criticism about his play, it did not matter. It was clear that head coach Claude Julien was not happy with his play.
In Galchenyuk’s first two games of the season, he skated a total 18:09 in the shootout win over the Buffalo Sabres. And in the loss to the Washington Capitals, he had a total ice time of 18:11. After that, ice time dwindled. During the next five losses, his total average ice time per game was 13:59. This also coincides with his spiral to a fourth line spot. Then in the Canadiens eighth game, a loss to the Anaheim Ducks, Galchenyuk’s ice time jumped to 18:03 on twenty-three shifts. Galchenyuk at this point seemed to have worked through his bad spell and seemed to have gained Julien’s trust again.
During the Canadiens first eight games, Galchenyuk had just one goal. It came in a loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Galchenyuk has scored three goals in the teams last five games. He also picked up a couple of assists, including on Drouin’s game winner last night. With four goals and two assists, he is seventh in team scoring. Brendan Gallagher leads the squad with six goals and 11 points. During the five-games before the weekend, Galchenyuk averaged just 12:43 per game.
Loss Of Ice Time
Out of the gate, Galchenyuk’s ice time averaged 18:10. Unfortunately, nothing seemed to click for him. So his reward for that was winding up in Julien’s doghouse and a drop in average ice time by 4:11 and a reduced role on the team.
Now Galchenyuk’s hard work is starting to pay off. He’s started to wind up on the score sheet. And his play away from the puck has improved as well. With better play and finally finding his scoring prowess his reward is another drop in ice time. So he gained another 1:16 of bench time. It’s a loss of 5:27 of ice time per game from the first two games of the year.
During the November 3rd practice, Galchenyuk patrolled the left wing with Jonathan Drouin at centre and Artturi Lehkonen on the right side. This was the top line in practice. There was an increase of 2:55 in the Canadiens loss to the Minnesota Wild last Thursday. This was the start of Galchenyuk’s ice time increase. He played 18:43 against the Jets and assisted on the winning goal, and followed that up with 16:15, and another big assist against the Blackhawks.
In 2015-2016 his total ice time was 16:16 per game for 82 games. That year he had 30 goals and 26 assists for 56 points. Last year, Galchenyuk’s season was shortened by injury, he still produced 17 goals, 27 assists, and 44 points with an average ice time of 15:56 per game.
Give Him More Ice Time
With Galchenyuk’s inspired play, plus the need for him to produce, the need for him to be on the ice more is imperative. With the hole the Canadiens dug themselves to start the season, now more than ever the skilled players need to be on the ice to create and convert scoring chances. Singling him out and bouncing him throughout out the lineup constantly is undermining his development.
Galchenyuk has made the improvements in his game to merit more ice time. Now is time for the organization to reward him. More ice time equals more confidence, more confidence equals more opportunities and more scoring. More scoring equals more wins, and that’s what it’s all about. This weekend was a good start.