I think we can all agree that the Montreal Canadiens’ 2017-18 season didn’t go quite as everyone had hoped. A foot injury forced Shea Weber out for the majority of the season, Max Pacioretty had the the worst year of his career and Carey Price was off his game — a lot.
But none of that stopped Brendan Gallagher from continuing to give it his all night after night. As one of only five players who suited up for all 82 games, the fearless forward had no chance of dragging his team to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but he at least tried his darnedest to get them a victory or two throughout the season.
He was the most productive forward for the Habs, and for his effort he ended up having the best season of his career. Racking up a total of 54 points, he tied his career high in assists (23) and surpassed his previous record of 24 goals during the 2014-15 season to join the elite 30-goal club, slipping an impressive 31 goals past opposing goaltenders.
In addition to tallying the most points during the season, those 31 markers also made him the top goal-scorer. No other player even cracked 20. Coming in at a distant second was Alex Galchenyuk (RIP Chucky) with 19 goals.
After suffering a hand injury in two consecutive years, first after blocking a shot by the New York Islanders’ Johnny Boychuk that shattered two of his fingers during the 2015-16 season then after getting hit by a 98-mph Weber slapshot the following season, Gallagher was back in full force for the 2017-18 season. He was a ray of light in a dark and painful season.
Now, I don’t want to brag (you take what you can get during a season like the last), but I did call it; that Gallagher was more than ready to go and was going to take no prisoners after seeing his effort early in the pre-season.
To say Gallagher makes it look easy would be a total lie. He makes it look like you have to work your butt off and smile while doing it. It may not be fair to call Gallagher the hardest working Hab, but I’m going to anyway. In a season where it seemed like almost no one was pulling their weight, or maybe it was just a case of not being able to find their groove, Gallagher battled on. He had the highest total shot attempts in all situations (477) with Pacioretty coming in next at 391, almost 100 fewer attempts.
He may have fought hard, like he’s known to do, driving toward the net and setting up shop in front of the opposing team’s netminder, but his title as “pest” seemed a little less accurate last season. He displayed more playmaking skills (as his points prove) and was a little less chippy. Although, thankfully, that Gally Grin still made an appearance or two.
On ice, Gallagher was undeniably the biggest leader on the team. Off the ice, he took it upon himself to play that role as well. In a season where we saw the cool and collected Price and positive Pacioretty show signs of wear and frustration, Gallagher was there to deal with the media and remain Gally-like.
The Habs wrapped up their season with a 29-40-13 record, coming in sixth in the Atlantic Division. Let’s not even think about how ugly the season could have gone without Gallagher in their corner.
At 26 years old, Gallagher is entering his prime. The formula of last season’s personal achievement, plus summer training, plus some good old fashion Gallagher work ethic equals Gallagher kicking butt again in the 2018-19 season.
Dare I even say, I predict it?