Francois Lacasse/Getty Images
Montreal Canadiens forward Thomas Vanek in front of Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask.
In the Canadiens' last game before Vanek joined, the Habs beat the Anaheim Ducks 4-3. In the three games since his debut, they’ve scored just three times, at one point going over two games without a goal. Obviously something needs to change, but let’s not get crazy.
If practice is anything to go by, Therrien’s latest solution is to break up the line of Max Pacioretty, David Desharnais and Brendan Gallagher, according to CTV. That has been Montreal’s most successful line combination all season, so, logically—at least according to Therrien’s logic—it needs to go.
This brand of common sense is nothing new. After starting Vanek off on a line with Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta with little to no success, Therrien got antsy and figured, obviously, that the most talented player of the three, Vanek, was the problem.
As a result of Vanek’s shift to the first line, Therrien has moved Brendan Gallagher back to the third line with Lars Eller and Alex Galchenyuk.
While reuniting Gallagher with Eller and Galchenyuk isn’t all that bad of a move in theory, one of the only reasons he was moved to the Desharnais line in the first place was because the ”EGG” line had lost its mojo.
Prior to breaking out with two points against the Minnesota Wild in late November after being moved to that top unit, Gallagher had scored just seven points over the previous 16 games. Eller had just six points over the same time span. Similarly, Galchenyuk had just eight points in his previous 17.
Needless to say, they weren’t the same line that had combined for 18 points over the first four games of the season. As such, reuniting them isn’t likely to instantly rekindle any chemistry as there had been close to nil when they last played together.
Meanwhile, putting all of his other eggs in one basket by playing Vanek with Pacioretty—two trigger men—is unlikely to generate any long-term chemistry at all.
Sure, that line combination was the one responsible for the lone goal the Habs scored against the Bruins, but it was hardly a work of art. It was a goal-mouth scramble on which Montreal got lucky. Really, the Habs actually showed the most offensive flair at the start the game and just before Milan Lucic made it 3-0 when Vanek was on the ice and had yet to be moved off the Plekanec line.
The real logical thing to do is to finally give Plekanec someone decent to play with, because he’s better than the 35 points he’s scored up to this point this season. At 35 years of age, meanwhile, Gionta’s actually worse than his 31 points and probably belongs on the third line where Eller and Galchenyuk’s big bodies can give him more space to go to the net.