Canadiens Gallagher’s Late-Season Surge Bodes Well For Future
All things considered, it was a rather tumultuous season for Montreal Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher.
For the first time in a very long time, the veteran winger arrived at training camp with a clean bill of health, a rather encouraging sign for a player that has suffered numerous injuries in the past.
But a broken ankle quickly sidelined his return to form, and as has been the tradition since his NHL debut, Gallagher put his body on the line to attempt an early return.
It backfired, and he was sidelined once again with a broken ankle.
Fortunately, Gallagher seems to have learned his lesson, as evidenced by his season-ending media availability.
“I came into camp feeling really good, health-wise,” he said. “The injury was obviously disappointing. The second time, I took more than enough time to heal. I came back and there was no issue. Going forward I won’t have to talk about it again. It was a frustrating thing, but in the first couple of games I felt like myself again, and that was nice. I only played 30-some games this year. That was disappointing. I like to be there for my teammates.”
With a more cautious approach to allowing his injuries to recover, Gallagher didn’t just feel like himself again, he gave us glimpses of the old Gallagher, the feisty forward who didn’t just frustrate his opponents, but also drove the offence thanks to his fantastic underlying numbers.
“It’s hard to describe the mindset we have,” explained Gallagher. “It may not make sense, but we’ve played with so much in the past, dealt with so much, we kinda believe we’ll be able to come through on the other side. But as you get older, it’s not as easy and maybe we have to be smarter It’s one of those things you self-assess, and I’ll learn from it.
“In my case, maybe I wasn’t totally honest with them. They can only deal with so much information. As a player, you have that responsibility.”
By The Numbers
Dealing with two broken ankles is a rather difficult proposition for anyone, let alone a professional athlete.
The proof is in the pudding.
Or rather, the proof is the numbers. Because frankly, I’ve never found any truth in the pudding. Just instant gratification, and eventually, a profound sense of sadness.
The same type of sadness Canadiens fans had while watching Gallagher in the first half of the season.
He wasn’t just struggling from a health standpoint, his underlying numbers were showing signs he had become a below-replacement level player, a shocking development for a player who had some of the best possession numbers in the entire NHL for roughly half a decade.
Considering he’s just in the second year of a six-year contract that pays him an annual average value of $6.5 million per season, things were looking rather dire.
However, Gallagher flipped the script the moment he gave his body a reasonable timeframe to heal.
He didn’t just start scoring more at 5v5, though he did see a decent increase in that respect.
More importantly, when Gallagher was on the ice in the final stretch of the season, the Canadiens controlled the shots and the expected goals.
This is crucial for many reasons, and not just because it signalled Gallagher’s return to form.
200 career goals for Brendan Gallagher! pic.twitter.com/Swy0PltPxL
— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) March 28, 2023
The Canadiens are flat-out awful when it comes to controlling shots and expected goals.
To give you an idea of just how bad they were this season, only one forward managed to finish the season above 50 percent in shot share, and that was Sean Monahan (53.2 CF%).
And no regularly-used forwards managed to crack the 50 percent mark in expected goals. In fact, Gallagher ended up leading the team with a 49.4 xGF%, and that’s including his rather difficult start to the season.
The Canadiens are in the midst of a rebuild, and consequently, they will need players like Gallagher to keep the team afloat as various players are given auditions in the NHL.
They also need players that can drive the offence, as Gallagher did for the first seven years of his career.
It’s too early to say Gallagher has turned back the clock and become one of the most dominant players from an underlying numbers standpoint, however, we are starting to see evidence that he has tapped back into his ability to improve the play of his linemates, which would become an incredible boon for head coach Martin St-Louis.
In otherwords, as the 20th-century poet LL Cool J said, “Don’t call it a comeback.”
At least not yet.
But there are definitely signs that Brendan Gallagher’s career is back on the right track.
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“I’ve never found any truth in the pudding. Just instant gratification, and eventually, a profound sense of sadness.”
👌Pure gold. 😂
I really like the chemistry that Gallagher showed with Evans after both came back from their injuries. Finding a 3rd guy to play with them would bring back shades to the Danault, Gallagher, Tatar line. The Armia that we see on rare occasions would be a perfect compliment to that duo, but since those sightings are so few and far between, we’ll have to look elsewhere. Lord knows we have an abundance to choose from.
Sounds good but the organization failed to have GALLAGHER get an XRAY to prove that he was capable of playing, it was accepted from GALLAGHER that he was okay, wrong, wrong