Thursday, 5 November 2015

Leave Alex Galchenyuk the time and leash to develop at centre.

While the Canadiens were winning nine straight, the usual critics who nitpick the Montréal Canadiens to death were appropriately muted.  Now that they've lost three of five, they're finding warts again.

One target has been Alex Galchenyuk, who started well early but has struggled lately, along with his linemates Alex Semin and Lars Eller.  Mr. Semin has been benched, and Brian Flynn and Devante Smith-Pelly have been tried in his place.  Lars Eller now is being poked and prodded and weighed for shipment to another line or to another team entirely.

I think it's way too early to worry about this, to float potential fixes.  You know what would be a good solution for Alex Galchenyuk? Patience.

We all said that last year, that he shouldn’t have been removed from the centre position and returned to the left wing after such a short period, that we should have ridden out the cold streak, invested that time in his development, even if it cost us a few losses.

Further, we were quick to warn/accuse Michel Therrien of having a quick hook this season, of sticking to the plan, instead of growing impatient at the first hurdle.

Let’s follow our counsel on social media. Let’s give the kid time to work out of this spell. He’ll have time to practice the next couple of weeks, on this homestand. No need for a trade, for a callup, to rob Peter to pay Paul by stripping other lines of their talent for his benefit.

The team is purring right now, there’s no need for surgery. Let him work out of his funk. Let the coaches remind the guys of their roles.

Lars needs to go to the net and corners more, not as a thumper, but as a physical player who works hard to get the puck, protects it well and takes it to the net, an overgrown Gally.

Alex Semin needs to adjust a little, make the appropriate play in the appropriate circumstances, not the giveaways he made against Toronto when he could have kept possession or cleared his zone. In the offensive zone, his creativity and lateral thinking, the extra moves he’ll make once in a while work well, surprise opponents, but he needs to be a little hungrier for goals, to do more volume shooting.

And Alex Galchenyuk needs to think in terms of making small contributions. No need for a homerun every plate appearance, just take quality swings, make contact, move the runners, get on base with walks if that’s what the pitchers are giving him. The homers will come by making contact on good swings.

Let’s be resolute. This is what we said we’d do. Chucky is finally a centre, and we wouldn’t desist at the first hint of trouble.

In football, your best athlete should be your QB, he handles the ball most. In hockey, the same should probably apply. The player who has the puck most should be your most skilled, if possible.

Alex will be more valuable to us if he’s a centre, everything else being equal. He has the skills and the physical abilities for it, we’re not banging a square peg in a round hole I don’t think, so let’s let him learn the role.

And we’ll have to appreciate the exploits of Dale and Torrey and Paul Byron and Tomas Fleischmann and Mike Condon while our “#2 line” rounds into form. Enjoy this win streak. Instead of finding fault and picking at warts.

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