On the move: Alex Galchenyuk is no stranger to playing center. In fact, the 19-year-old spent the better part of his time with the OHL’s Sarnia Sting as a pivot, and he’s been preparing for a move back to his natural position at the NHL level since his rookie campaign in 2012-13.
On Saturday night in Denver, head coach Michel Therrien offered Galchenyuk the chance to strut his stuff at center during the third period, pairing the offensively-gifted forward with Brendan Gallagher and Max Pacioretty during the third period of a 4-1 loss at the Pepsi Center. Not surprisingly, Galchenyuk didn't seem out of place in his new, but familiar role.
“I like the way he’s developed since last season. He’s gaining confidence and he’s developing a better understanding of the game,” offered Therrien, who has seen Galchenyuk rack up two goals and 11 points in 15 games thus far this season. “Moving him is something we’ve been thinking about for a while. We were waiting for the right moment. I liked what I saw. He didn’t seem lost, which is good news for us. That’s why we’re going ahead with this move and we’ll keep it going.”
Committed to ensuring that Galchenyuk grows increasingly comfortable in between his wingmen, the Habs bench boss will monitor his progress closely and provide him with whatever support is necessary to ensure he makes a smooth transition to life in the middle.
“We’re going to give him time and see how things play out. It will depend on how the player feels too and if he’s responding well. We don’t want to put him in a position where he’ll end up struggling,” affirmed Therrien. “We’ll see how things go, and if he’s progressing the way we hoped he would, we’ll move ahead. We’re going to work very directly with him, but you can’t forget that he’s just 19 years old. I’m making him one of my top priorities.”
Making progress: On Monday morning, Travis Moen skated alongside his teammates for the first time since suffering a fractured orbital bone in a game against the San Jose Sharks on Oct. 26 at the Bell Centre. In the aftermath of his latest injury, the 31-year-old, who sported a blue ‘no contact’ jersey – and a visor – during the on-ice session at the Bell Sports Complex, was quick to admit that this injury in particular had him worried, and he was grateful the final outcome wasn’t worse.
“It’s always scary. You feel it, you get hit in that area and you never really know what the damage is. As soon as I got back, the doctor said my eye was fine. It was obviously a huge relief; just some stitches,” mentioned Moen, who has two assists in 11 games during the 2013-14 campaign.
The Stewart Valley, SK native, who has suffered several facial injuries over the course of his 11-plus seasons in the NHL, will now sport a visor for the next four to six weeks to ensure he doesn’t aggravate the injury any further. That should provide the one-time Stanley Cup champ with plenty of time to decide whether to make it a permanent part of his on-ice wardrobe.
“Obviously it was a close call. I've had a few of those in my career. It really makes you think about putting a visor on. They won’t let me play without one for a while. I’ll tough it out until then and make a decision,” noted Moen, who boasts 727 penalty minutes in 626 career NHL regular season games. “It’s something I’ve thought about, but it’s going to take some time to get used to. It’ll be a little bit different out there for sure.”
No timetable as of yet has been set for Moen's return.
A welcomed call: Called up from the Hamilton Bulldogs on Sunday afternoon, Martin St-Pierre was on the ice alongside the rest of the Canadiens at practice on Monday morning. The 30-year-old centerman, who currently sits tied atop the Bulldogs’ scoring list with eight points in seven games, found it difficult to contain his excitement at the prospect of possibly contesting his first NHL game since the 2009-10 campaign wearing bleu-blanc-rouge.
“The phone call [regarding the call-up] came quickly. I was settled down in Hamilton and then I get called up here and I’m back in a hotel. But it’s a great experience. I can’t complain. It’s a dream for me to be here during the season and to be a part of the Canadiens organization,” explained the Ottawa, ON native, who signed a one-year free-agent contract with the Habs in July. “I work hard and I never give up. You always have to believe in yourself. I got the call at 5:00 p.m. yesterday, I was on the plane at 9:00 p.m. and I’m here today. We live out of our suitcases, but we play hockey for things like this.”
St-Pierre, who boasts 38 NHL games on his resume between Chicago, Boston and Ottawa, understands the importance of making the most of any opportunity he’s given to play on the biggest stage.
“When I was at training camp, my goal was to stand out and play the only way I know how; to be strong in the defensive zone and to put up points. When they sent me down to the AHL, they told me they would give chances to the guys who deserve it,” mentioned St-Pierre. “I was consistent in Hamilton and I really got things going over the weekend by scoring three goals in two games. Regardless of where they use me, whether it’s tomorrow, Thursday or Saturday, I’ll do my best during my time here.”
Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.
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