Impact of Gallagher, Monahan and Savard

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.

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David Savard – The Unsung Hero

By JD Lagrange – We look at the Canadiens’ start of the season, playing .500 hockey through the first eight games, without Joel Edmundson and Mike Matheson on defense, and we praise the goaltenders and the four rookie defensemen. And rightfully so. Kaiden Guhle, Jordan Harris, Arber Xhekaj and Johnathan Kovacevic are all NHL rookies this year and they deserve the accolades that they are receiving. Both Jake Allen and Samuel Montembeault have been outstanding so far. But there’s one man that seems to be a second thought and he too, deserves some attention. His name? David Savard.

In the absence of Edmundson, the coaching staff game the assistant-captain job to the 32 year-old St-Hyacinthe, Quebec native. After all, he has played over 680 games in the NHL and he has a Stanley Cup ring to show for. And Savard is taking his role seriously on this young defense. In fact, he and Chris Wideman have been good role models for the Canadiens’ young defensemen.

But why is he so often overlooked by the media and fan base alike? Well, he’s not a fast skater. He’s not one who will carry the puck end to end. He’s not the best at anything on the ice. But he does the little things right. And that doesn’t draw the attention of those who like the flashiness and spectacular side of the game. But rest assured, the coaching staff and his teammates know and appreciate what he does out there.

At the time of writing this, Savard leads the Canadiens in ice time, and the team’s defensemen in points with four in eight games. His 37 blocked shots place him first in the NHL in that category.

Teaching Guhle

You cannot talk about Kaiden Guhle’s amazing start to his NHL career and leave Savard out of the equation. Yes, it is amazing to see Guhle playing almost 21 minutes a game in his rookie season, on the top defense pairing. David Savard is his partner and averages just under 22 and a half minutes of ice time per game. Yes, Guhle’s first goal in the NHL against the Buffalo Sabres was on an amazing shot. But it’s Savard who set him up beautifully, drawing the defender on him, with a perfect pass for that one-timer.

Not his chair

With that said, there is no doubt that first pairing is not his seat. He’s also too smart to believe that it is. But the Canadiens losing Shea Weber and Jeff Petry in back to back season without replacing either of them is not Savard’s fault. Yet, he is the one who must face the opposition’s top lines, while bringing along and teaching the ropes to a – talented – rookie by his side.

Ideally, Savard would be on the second pairing but neither Kovacevic nor Wideman are better replacements than him for that role right now. And that’s not even the coaches’ fault. The responsibility sits fully on Kent Hughes who, like his predecessor, has not addressed the issue. Although at least Bergevin had Petry there.

Justin Barron and Logan Mailloux both have the potential to become better defensemen and better candidate to first pairing duties than Savard is. But neither of them is there yet in their development. Aside from unloading a few veteran wingers who aren’t carrying their weight, the number one priority for Hughes is – or should be – to trade for someone who would allow Savard to continue what he’s doing, but on the second pairing.

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