BROSSARD, Que. – You can call the red-hot line of Lars Eller, Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher a lot of things these days.
You can call them young, productive, electric _ the list goes on with the way the Montreal Canadiens’ young unit has begun the NHL season.
Just don’t call them the Egg Line.
“I think the Egg Line sucks,” Gallagher said Monday. “What does that even mean?
The name, based on the first letters of their surnames, surfaced recently online. Happily for them, it has not gained much traction.
The 24-year-old Eller, picking up from a strong finish to last season, has three goals and a pair of assists over Montreal’s first two games. The 19-year-old Galchenyuk has four assists and the 21-year-old Gallagher has two goals and an assist.
The unit has produced five of the team’s seven goals thus far.
Fans often want to give a line like that a name. It’s unclear whether the Egg Line will stick.
“They can call us whatever they want, I guess,” said Gallagher.
The young trio will take its show on the road as the Canadiens (1-1-0) begin a four-game western swing Wednesday night in Calgary. They play Thursday in Edmonton, Saturday in Vancouver and Oct. 15 in Winnipeg.
The six-foot-two Eller, who was named second star of the week by the NHL on Monday behind Washington’s Alex Ovechkin, ended last season with six points in the final three games. He has 11 points in his last five regular-season contests.
In the midst of that, he was knocked out cold by an open-ice hit from Eric Gryba in the opening game of the playoffs against Ottawa, but there appears to be no lasting effects.
The Danish centre has picked up where he left off. He’s playing with vigour and with no trace of fear.
“I’ve learned myself better—what buttons to push,” he said of his success. “There’s a physical part of it in the off-season and there’s certainly a big mental part to it.
“A lot of it is psychological: trusting yourself, confidence, keeping on challenging yourself.”
The Canadiens have been waiting for Eller to break out since he was acquired in a trade in June 2010 from the St. Louis Blues for goaltender Jaroslav Halak.
In three seasons, he has shown flashes of his talent playing mostly as a third-line centre, but the points production has been slow to come.
Lately, Eller is so hot that in a 4-1 win over Philadelphia on Saturday night, the puck came to him as he was going off the ice.
He backhanded it to the other side of the rink, where Brian Gionta turned it into a Rene Bourque goal. Eller got an assist.
It helps to have the crafty Galchenyuk making plays and the small but gritty Gallagher going to the net.
“That’s why we’re an effective line now, we’re doing what we do well,” said Gallagher. ” It’s leading to good offensive shifts.
“Obviously, Chuckie (Galchenyuk) is awesome. You see how composed he is with the puck. And Larry (Eller)—as he goes, our line goes.”
The line saw its ice time rise considerably from opening night—a 4-3 loss to Toronto—to the victory over the Flyers. It came at the expense of the first line, which is struggling without big winger Max Pacioretty.
He jammed his wrist against the Maple Leafs and sat out the next game.
Coach Michel Therrien said Pacioretty will make the trip out west, but there was no word on whether he will play in Calgary.
Without him, centre David Desharnais and newcomer Daniel Briere, with Brandon Prust filling in on left wing, have been ineffective.
“Honestly, I expect more from that line,” said Therrien. “We want to see the compete level go up.”
Most years, the Canadiens end training camp with a few days of team bonding at a country retreat, but they stayed home this time. Instead, they have their trip out west to get to know each other.
Two of the three new veterans on the team, defenceman Douglas Murray (upper body) and enforcer George Parros (concussion), are out of action.
But the trip is still an event for the players from Western Canada, including Gallagher, goalie Carey Price, defenceman Josh Gorges and forwards Travis Moen, Rene Bourque and Ryan White.
“It’s an opportunity for guys to hang out and bond and get to know each other,” said Gorges. “When you get to know guys, it helps on the ice. You want to do the extra for them.”