Ahhh, Brendan Gallagher. Not just the heart and soul of the Montreal Canadiens, but also the top goal-scorer of the past two seasons. Who would have thought that the Habs’ little “pest” who parks himself in front of the net, gets under pretty much every player’s skin, and raises the blood pressure of every goaltender he comes in contact with would end up having a few tricks up his sleeve?
After being injury-riddled for two consecutive seasons, Gallagher came back in 2017-18 to a career year, leading the team in goals, with 31, and points. Last season he topped it again, beating his tally by two goals and remaining the Canadiens’ top man with 33 goals. Coming in at second place was Max Domi with 28.
One thing that has changed these past couple of seasons is that Gallagher’s game isn’t all deflections and rebounds anymore. He’s been taking more shots (and getting the puck in) from much farther away from the goaltender. It’s how he beat his 2017-18 record, scoring his 32nd goal of the season in March.
Last year, Gallagher found a pretty steady home on the most stable line alongside Tomas Tatar and Phillip Danault. Seeing how well that worked out for everyone involved, there’s a very good chance we’ll see that lineup again this season.
Not missing a single game, Gallagher had a pretty impressive season all around. He had a fun four-game scoring streak beginning at the end of February, he tallied up four game-winning goals, 52 points (33G, 19A), and something else .... What am I forgetting? Oh yeah, his first ever professional hat trick. Straight out of the penalty box, Gallagher found the back of the net for the third time during a contest with the Philadelphia Flyers. I’m pretty sure that after the excitement died down, we were all stunned to learn that was his first three-goal game.
Many of his goals may still come from deflections and rebounds (we’ll take those, too), but Gallagher is also now taking more shots, which is doing him all kinds of favours. He finished sixth in the league in shots and ninth in even-strength shots, converting 28 five-on-five goals by the end of the season.
As much as it pains me to make this comparison, he’s similar to Brad Marchand, who was always the aggravating one on the Boston Bruins but has suddenly started to prove he has mad skills. (And if you tell anyone I said that, I’ll deny it.)
I think it’s safe to say that Brendan Gallagher is no longer just the pest on the team. Is he still a thorn in the opposing team’s side? Absolutely! Let’s hope that evil streak never fades away and the Gally Grin will always be a Habs staple.