Josh Anderson’s inability to score goals was one of the biggest stories of the Canadiens’ first half of the season. And for good reason: the big winger only reached the back of the net (deserted) in his 25th game, before finally beating a goalkeeper in his 30th. Since then, he has found a very good cruising speed.
Quite discreetly, while all the spotlight was on Anderson, the tap was turned off for Brendan Gallagher. And not half. If he is shut out again this Saturday night, it will be a 25th scoreless game for him.
Since the last time he scored, last November 11 against the Boston Bruins, the drought has been total. No goals, only four assists, and an abysmal differential of -16. In the entire NHL during the same period, only two other forwards playing on offensive lines suffered similar breakdowns: Cam Atkinson (Philadelphia) and Andrew Copp (Detroit), although the latter had 10 assists.
“The chances [to score] are there,” he noted. Quite rightly so, we might add. Since the start of the season, the 31-year-old striker leads his team at five-on-five in expected goals (9.47) and quality scoring chances (47), calculates the site Natural Stat Trick. All phases of play combined, his 12.09 expected goals far exceed his 5 goals scored. In other words: he deserves a better fate.
This is what made Martin St-Louis say that Gallagher “plays better than his statistics”. And this is probably also one of the reasons why his current lethargy went under the radar for a long time.
“The work ethic is still there,” said the coach. It all starts from there, for Gally. »
St-Louis nevertheless recognized that “for any player, these sequences become heavy”. This was true for Anderson just a few days ago; it is also for Gallagher today.
The latter, however, is categorical: “I have not lost confidence. » According to him, small “adjustments” will allow him to finally outsmart a goalie again. “You can’t lose sight of the other aspects of the game. I want to make an impact whether I score or not. »
Regardless, he believes he could show more “composure” with the puck near the net. “I’m kind of in my head,” he said. If I slow down the game, it will be fine. It’ll go in eventually. »
Martin St-Louis essentially gave the same speech.
“When you lose confidence, sometimes there is a little hesitation in your selection of games,” analyzed the CH pilot.
The informed reader will have recognized a contradiction with Gallagher’s speech, but the head coach did not know that his player was going to assure that he had not lost confidence. Let’s move on.
“He must continue to build his confidence, and that starts in training,” St-Louis continued. You have to try to calm him down so that he makes a better selection of games. […] It’s the same with any player. You have to help them mentally, make them understand that it’s a matter of a little jump here and there. You have to keep trying to play the game in front of you, going where the game requires you to go. When you do that, usually it will turn out. »