Galchenyuk has points in all four games the Canadiens have played this season.
He scored his first goal of 2013-’14 in the 4-1 win over Edmonton and added an assist, bringing his total to six – tied with Henrik Sedin for the league lead.
Galchenyuk was the third overall choice in the 2012 draft. Canadiens fans can be grateful that Scott Howson was still the general manager in Columbus.
With the second pick that June, the Blue Jackets took defenceman Ryan Murray. Had their current GM, Jarmo Kekalainen, been in charge, Columbus almost certainly would have drafted Galchenyuk.
So the Canadiens caught a break there. And they landed a special player whom the team brought along slowly through his rookie season.
Galchenyuk still isn’t playing his natural position. The defensive responsibilities of a centre may be a bridge still too far for a kid who won’t turn 20 until February.
For inspiration, Galchenyuk can look to his 24-year-old teammate, Lars Eller. More than 220 games into his NHL career, Eller is rounding into an NHL centre who can be relied upon in all three zones.
Bournival made his second NHL start and flashed the speed and grit that are going to keep Ryan White in the pressbox for a while.
That’s the good news for your Montreal Canadiens: this team is becoming strong down the middle … and I haven’t even mentioned Tomas Plekanec or – crank up the negative Comments – David Desharnais.
For the second game of an Alberta back-to-back, Michel Therrien shook up his centres and defence pairings.
Plekanec played between Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher. Eller centred Max Pacioretty and Daniel Briere. DD was on a line with Brian Gionta and Rene Bourque.
Galchenyuk and Gallagher each had a goal and an assist against the Oilers, but they seemed more at ease passing the puck to each other than involving Pleks. The line was used as first wave on a power play that produced one goal – Gallagher, off a perfect feed by Galchenyuk – in two opportunities.
Pacioretty had four shots on goal, and it was nice to see him playing with a centre who has size. Eller was not in synch with his new linemates to the degree he had been with the kids, but the line had some excellent forechecking shifts late in the game with the Canadiens protecting their lead.
Desharnais won 11 of his 19 faceoffs. He meshed reasonably well with two speedy wingers – and Bourque shook off the torpor that had afflicted him in Calgary. But as things stand, that’s the team’s third line.
Bournival made a zone-clearing error that led to the Too Many Men penalty during which ageless Ryan Smyth opened the scoring. But the kid played a solid seven minutes and was in Devan Dubnyk’s face during the sequence that produced Brandon Prust’s first goal of the season.
P.K. Subban had three assists and leads NHL defencemen with six points. P.K. played 25:34 – including 3:16 when the Canadiens were shorthanded – and skated about 800 miles by the time the siren sounded. His new partner, Andrei Markov, played 24:21 the night after 27:23 in Calgary.
Amazing ToI for a soon-to-be 35-year-old defenceman with bad pins. Can you say contract year?
Raphael Diaz teamed with Gorges and, thus inspired, blocked three shots.
With jarred Tinordi, who had a rough night in Calgary, watching from the pressbox, rookie Nathan Beaulieu contributed a solid 11:43 – almost all of it at even strength. Depending on the status of Gorges’ mysterious injury, perhaps we’ll see both rookie Dmen in Vancouver.
In his first start of the season, Peter Budaj was terrific. carey Price’s veteran backup made 27 saves in a solid performance reminiscent of the yeoman work Budaj contributed last season.
The game was not an unalloyed triumph.
The juggled lines lacked cohesion, Eller took a horrible penalty and Prust had to fight some goon much taller and heavier than he.
But a win is a win, and the Canadiens head to B.C. with a .500 record.
Is it 2015 yet?