Despite what has been a mediocre stretch of play over their past 10 games, the Montreal Canadiens haven’t had much, or really anything, to complain about. Only five teams have scored more goals, only five have allowed fewer and the Canadiens’ 17-6-2 record has them sitting atop the NHL’s standings.
It’s not all sunshine in Montreal anymore, though.
In Sunday’s 5-4 shootout victory over the Los Angeles Kings, the Canadiens lost leading scorer, Alex Galchenyuk, to a lower-body injury which appeared to come when he collided with Kings captain Anze Kopitar.
The knock came as Galchenyuk was skating through the middle of the ice and bumped legs with Kopitar, who himself was cutting into the slot area. It didn’t seem like much at the time, but Galchenyuk skated to the bench flexing his right leg and the ailment was enough to put Galchenyuk out of the remainder of the contest.
There was no immediate update on Galchenyuk, 22, following the game, but word came down from the Canadiens Monday afternoon that the center will be out indefinitely with a lower-body injury, and the team said further updates would be coming later in the week once he can be evaluated by team doctors in Montreal.
With the way Galchenyuk has been playing, it’s a brutal loss for the Canadiens.
Through 25 games, Galchenyuk was on pace to have hands down the best season of his career. Already with nine goals and 23 points, he was on pace to set match his career high of 30 goals and blow his previous-best point total out of the water with 76 points this campaign. Galchenyuk had also formed a fairly formidable tandem alongside off-season acquisition Alex Radulov, and the duo had combined on the score sheet for 14 goals this season.
But it isn’t just that Galchenyuk was having an impact on the score sheet that will make his loss hurt.
For much of the first few seasons of his career, fans in Montreal clamoured for the talented youngster to be used down the middle. He had spent much of his first few years on the wing despite being drafted as a center. During the 2015-16 campaign, coach Michel Therrien started to test Galchenyuk as a pivot, and he had more than proven that he was capable of carrying the load as a second-line center this year.
In that sense, Galchenyuk gave the Canadiens a solid one-two punch down the middle for the first time in a few seasons.
The current concern is that Galchenyuk has suffered another serious knee injury this early in his career. He missed all but two games in the 2011-12 OHL campaign after undergoing knee surgery on his left knee ahead of the campaign.
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