If you take a broad look at Alex Galchenyuk's sixth National Hockey League season, he seems to be on pace for a down year in comparison to previous seasons.
Through his first 42 games last season, Galchenyuk had 33 points. The forward missed a month due to injury and ended up amassing 11 points in his last 19 games. His 17 goals and 44 points in 61 games isn't so bad, and he still averaged 0.72 points per game.
In 2017-18, Galchenyuk has 23 points through 42 games. His points-per-game rate of 0.54 is closer to his season worst from 2013-14.
Notable statistics, per Hockey Reference and Natural Stat Trick
- 10 goals, 13 assists in 42 games this season
- On pace for 19 goals and 45 points
- Five even-strength goals in 2017-18; had seven all of 2016-17
- Averaging 0.54 points per game, below his career average of 0.60
Thankfully, numbers don't always provide the full picture. One saving grace (if you can call it that) is that those lowered totals aren’t a unique phenomenon among Montreal Canadiens players.
Galchenyuk is currently tied for third on the team in goals with 10 and has a share of the team's lead in points with 23. At the mid-point of the season, the Canadiens are ranked 29th in goals for with 2.52 per game (106 goals). Galchenyuk's goals account for nearly 11% of the team's offence.
In addition, Galchenyuk has been the most productive Canadiens player in the last 12 games, with seven points in that span. That tally includes the rocket he unleashed on the power play against the Vancouver Canucks in a 5-2 win this past Sunday. Half of Galchenyuk's goals have come on the man advantage this season.
What a rip by Alex Galchenyuk to make it 2-0. pic.twitter.com/TTx6NN2fOp— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) January 8, 2018
He’s been most dangerous from that off-side faceoff circle, even at even strength. While he’s on the ice, the Canadiens’ power play has been at it’s most dangerous, with the vast majority of shots coming from the goaltender’s left.
His ice time has been bumped up over the last five games, averaging nearly 18 minutes a game in that time. Through Galchenyuk's first 37 games, he averaged just 14:55. Slowly but surely, he's gaining more trust and more time from Claude Julien and the Canadiens coaching staff, and is rewarding that decision with offensive production.
As for whether Galchenyuk will ever return to centre, perhaps the Canadiens have opened the possibility. But it's unsure as to when, or if, they will.
Julien says “Galchenyuk came to play tonight” and...”we’ve got him on the wing but it doesn’t mean we’ll never see him at centre again if we have the need.”— Dan Robertson (@DRTSN690) December 28, 2017
If Galchenyuk continues to produce, and the Canadiens still believe they can make a run at the post-season, they need to reconsider his 23-game stint at centre last season where he scored 22 points.
A dream partnership would be if he and Jonathan Drouin partnered up, with the latter moving from centre to wing. Especially if that line includes Artturi Lehkonen, as that has been one of the best possession trios Galchenyuk has found himself on this season.
Hopefully the bye week doesn't slow Galchenyuk's upswing in play. All is not lost for the 23-year-old who continues to show flashes of brilliance for the bleu-blanc-rouge.
How do you grade Galchenyuk’s first half?
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