By JD Lagrange – Some will say it’s timing and coincidence, others will see the direct effect. American writer Emma Bull once wrote: “Coincidence is the word we use when we can’t see the levers and pulleys“. No matter how we try twisting it, the Montreal Canadiens have been struggling mightily since having lost three key veteran players to injuries: Brendan Gallagher, Sean Monahan and David Savard are dearly missed by the young Canadiens and it sure seems like they are… levers and pulleys for this team.
Brendan Gallagher will the the first to tell you that he wishes he would have contributed more on the score sheet. But anyone who has followed this team in the past 10 years or so will be able to attest that Gallagher is much more than goals’ scoring. Heart and Soul is an expression that is sometimes overused, but not in the veteran winger’s case. He’s a firecracker in the dressing room and he’s the epitome of relentlessness and hard work, doing whatever it takes to win.
Since he’s been out of the line-up, the Canadiens have a record of 3-5-1. They have scored 2.13 goals per game and have allowed 3.00 goals per game. The team is only generating 25.2 shots per game without him and the power play is at 12.1% success rate.
Sean Monahan is a veteran center who has fit extremely well into the team.
The Canadiens are 2-4-0 since Monahan’s injury and the team’s faceoffs’ percentage is below the respectable 50% mark without him in the line-up. They have scored 2.00 goals per game and have allowed 3.33 goals per game while the power play took a huge hit, with a 4.2% success rate without him.
David Savard’s value on the Canadiens is sometimes highly underrated by fans and some members of the media. We touched on it before but he is a leading candidate for the Jacques Beauchamps award as the Canadiens’ unsung hero. At the time of his injury, he was second in the entire NHL in blocked shots with 74. He was a stabilizing force and influence on young Kaiden Guhle and the two formed the team’s top pairing.
Since he’s been out, the Canadiens have a 2-4-1 record. They score on average 2.57 goals per game but it’s on the goals’ allowed that his presence is felt most, allowing 3.86 goals per game without him. The Canadiens also allow 32.1 shots per game and the team’s penalty kill is hurting, with a 76.7% success rate.
After the game against the Anaheim Ducks, where the Canadiens were, for the most part, outclassed by the last place Ducks, coach Martin St-Louis said that there were too many passengers on the team. It is unlikely that the coach was referring to the young players as they are the once carrying this team since the start of the season.
The next game, Evgenii Dadonov was made a healthy scratch against the Tampa Bay Lightning and we saw Joel Armia play with more conviction, stoned a couple of times by goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy. Jonathan Drouin has been playing some more inspired hockey since coming back three games ago but unfortunately for him, he made a few mistake while playing the point either on the power play or with the goaltender pulled. That is NOT a position for him and the coaching staff must realize that.
Invisible most of the time, Mike Hoffman is back in his coma, or so it seems, after a decent stretch. And when we do notice him, it is more often than not due to a bad pass intercepted.
If there is one thing that Gallagher, Monahan and Savard will never be qualified as, it’s the word “passengers”. And the Canadiens will be much better off with those three men back into the line-up.