For the second straight campaign, Brendan Gallagher is going to find himself missing time due to a left hand ailment, but the broken fingers suffered during the 2015-16 season pale in comparison to the hand fracture he suffered blocking Shea Weber’s nearly 100 miles-per-hour blast.
Following last season’s injury, which came in late November, Gallagher missed 17 games over roughly five weeks before returning to action. This time, though, the Canadiens winger is set to be on the shelf for at least eight weeks.
Gallagher, 24, suffered the hand fracture on Wednesday night while playing the net front on a Canadiens’ power play. As a puck came across on a platter for Weber, he laid into a one-timer that struck Gallagher directly on his left hand, causing the Canadiens winger to immediately drop his glove and stick before skating to the Montreal bench. Gallagher remained on the bench long enough to watch the Canadiens score on the power play, but hurried to the dressing room shortly thereafter and didn’t return to the game.
It’s a horrible bit of luck for Gallagher to fall injured this season, too, because he was already trying to battle through one of the tougher campaigns of his career. Through 39 games, Gallagher had managed just nine goals and 18 points, good for a .46 points per game rate and putting him on pace for a 13-goal, 38-point season. As far as full-season totals go, that would have made the 2016-17 season the worst statistical year of Gallagher’s time in the NHL, which hurts that much more given he was coming off of two straight seasons with solid production.
Gallagher’s injury comes at an absolutely brutal time for Montreal, too. The Canadiens are currently without several lineup regulars, a list which now also includes Paul Byron, who has been one of the standouts for the club this season. Byron fell injured early in the same Wednesday outing that Gallagher was forced to leave, however he’s only listed as day-to-day with an upper-body ailment.
With Gallagher out, the Canadiens have already made some moves to bring up players from the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps. Sven Andrighetto and rookie Nikita Scherbak are the two players who’ve earned their way up onto the Canadiens’ roster, and it’s likely at least one or both will find their way into action come Saturday night’s meeting with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The only good news to come for the Canadiens is that Alex Galchenyuk and Markov returned to practice Friday. Markov has missed the past eight games with a lower-body injury, which left the Canadiens without their veteran second-pairing rearguard, while Galchenyuk has missed the past 14 games with a knee injury. His return to practice comes much sooner than many expected given his initial timeline for return was 6-8 weeks.
Galchenyuk’s return could pay big dividends with Gallagher out, though, especially if the 22-year-old can get back in the next few games. Despite missing the past 14 games, Galchenyuk still ranks fourth on the Canadiens with 23 points in 25 games.
Even if Galchenyuk and Markov are back soon, Montreal will still have to weather the storm while waiting for Andrew Shaw, David Desharnais and Greg Pateryn to get back into action.
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