The NHL is littered with “dynamic duos” at the forward position. It usually involves two elite players playing together on the same line, such as the Sedin twins, Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry or players providing a one-two punch from different lines such as the combination of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane or Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. The Montreal Canadiens have lacked elite talents up front, but the recent play of Alex Galchenyuk has changed that.
The Emergence of Alex Galchenyuk
With injuries hitting the Habs hard, head coach Michel Therrien has done a lot of line juggling. His best move so far was putting Galchenyuk back at centre and on the top line with Max Pacioretty. Galchenyuk has six goals in his last five games and Pacioretty has four points in his last two games. Since the slump in the beginning of December, Pacioretty’s production has fallen right off. Whether it’s due to his summer injury or a product of the team’s season going downhill, Pacioretty hasn’t looked anything like the dominant winger from last season.
Since being put back in the middle, Galchenyuk has been a man on a mission. Given skilled linemates and proper ice time, he has been Montreal’s biggest threat the last couple of games. He is shooting the puck more and his puck protection skills have gotten better. He is simplifying his game and his immense skill shines through on almost every shift. Galchenyuk’s combination of size, skill and vision make him a dangerous player and is showing he deserves to be the team’s number one.
More than One Threat
Pacioretty has looked a lot more engaged since Galchenyuk got moved up to his line and the two have clicked. The captain has battled harder and has tried out new plays while Galchenyuk has benefited from the skill set Pacioretty brings to the table. With Brendan Gallagher out with an injury, rookie Sven Andrighetto has jumped up to play on that top line. He isn’t the same caliber of player as the other two but has made nice plays too.
For a team to contend, it is imperative that the team possess multiple scoring threats. Montreal has been set in goal and on defence with superstars Carey Price and P.K Subban, but the forward corps hasn’t bore that superstar player just yet. Pacioretty isn’t a superstar but he has emerged as an underrated 30 goal scorer. Galchenyuk has the pedigree of a star in waiting with his talent and was a top three pick for a reason.
Hopefully, Therrien will not split up Galchenyuk and Pacioretty as they have looked good together. For the first time in a long time, the Habs finally have two elite talents up front that are a threat to score every game. Montreal has some work to do this summer to improve this team but they took a step forward by simply putting Galchenyuk in the number one centre position. With every game he plays, he is gripping his new position tighter to make sure no one, not even Therrien, can take it away from him.
Featured Image for this post was provided by Amy Irvin/ The Hockey Writers
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