Forward lines and defense pairings
Pacioretty – Danault – Radulov
Lehkonen – Plekanec – Byron
Andrighetto – Galchenyuk – Shaw
De La Rose – Mitchell – Flynn
Emelin – Weber
Beaulieu – Petry
Barberio – Redmond
Daniel Carr, Ryan Johnston
David Desharnais (knee), Greg Pateryn (ankle), Andrei Markov (lower body)
Alex Galchenyuk is the Canadiens number one center today and for the foreseeable future. It seems silly to have to state this ironclad fact. But it would appear that some, including the Canadiens head coach, has not yet understood the point.
Can we agree that Therrien’s far too public put down of Galchenyuk this week did nothing for the confidence of a player returning from injury? And it was clear that Galchenyuk was miffed.
Let’s run down the statistics.
Galchenyuk has 11 goals and 16 assists for 27 points in just 30 games played. Galchenyuk has 11 power-play points which places him third on the team. Only Galchenyuk and Paul Byron have a shooting percentage over 20 per cent. No one else is even close.
Galchenyuk leads the team with .90 points per game. He is having an outstanding season.
But coach Therrien demoted his most offensively talented player to the third line to centre Andrew Shaw and Sven Andrighetto for Friday’s game in New Jersey. During that game, when reunited with his regular linemates, Max Pacioretty and Alexander Radulov, for power-play duty, Galchenyuk and mates combined for all three goals.
It was Galchenyuk’s first three-point game of the season. So surely, Therrien would return Galchenyuk to the top line where he belongs? No, inexplicably he didn’t.
Phillip Danault started tonight’s game as the Canadiens number one centre. For a third line centre, Danault has performed well, but he is no Alex Galchenyuk.
GF60 is a measure of the number of goals scored for while a player is on the ice per 60 minutes of icetime. Danault is 10th among forwards with a GF60 of 2.30. That’s not great, only slightly ahead of Michael McCarron, who finds himself in St. John’s right now. Galchenyuk has a GF60 mark of 3.32, good for second on the Canadiens.
So although the Canadiens ran up the shot total, particularly in the second period, it was the Sabres who had a high volume of dangerous scoring chances. In the third period, the Sabres dominated the Canadiens. Carey Price was superb and the only reason that the Habs picked up a point.
▲ Carey Price, Artturi Lehkonen, Jacob De La Rose
▼ Andrew Shaw, Nathan Beaulieu, Mark Barberio, Zach Redmond, Michel Therrien