There was a lot of discussion of the Montreal Canadiens finding the right fit next to Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki on the team’s top line. Kirby Dach seems like a good fit there. When Martin St-Louis decided to pair Mike Hoffman with Christian Dvorak and Brendan Gallagher, it didn’t generate much discussion but it did raise some eyebrows.
“Last year Gallagher and Hoffman played together a lot,” said St-Louis. “They are two completely different players. They have a lot of success together, not only scoring, but making things happen.”
It’s then perhaps no coincidence that the two Hoffman goals against Detroit came off of rebounds from Gallagher shots, and on Wednesday his goal came off of a pass from Dvorak. The line doesn’t seem like it would work: the offensive slant of Hoffman, the defensive acumen of Dvorak, and the pedal-to-the-medal of Gallagher, but the differences seem to make everything complementary.
“Hoffman has been playing well, not just [Tuesday and Wednesday],” said St-Louis. “His statistics before that maybe didn’t tell the whole story. Even when he was out of the lineup due to circumstances and situations, his behavior was great and I’m happy that he’s having success for his confidence.”
Goal scorers gain confidence from seeing the puck go into the net. It’s no coincidence that Hoffman’s strong game on Wednesday came immediately after he scored two goals in Detroit. The puck won’t always go in, but building strong habits will eventually lead to that happening. St-Louis said after Wednesday’s game that focusing purely on results isn’t necessarily the way to go, and while it’s hard for a goal scorer to be happy with the process, the last two games are proof that things are starting to turn around.
Hoffman has been criticized for many things this season, but this team needs secondary scoring. If the line of Hoffman, Dvorak, and Gallagher can help bring some of that like they have in the last two days, it makes everything around them better.