Last season, things came crashing down for the Montreal Canadiens. After the hottest start in franchise history, they were bitten hard by the injury bug. Their comfortable cushion at the beginning of the year evaporated, and they ultimately missed the playoffs in one of the more unfortunate collapses ever to occur.
Now, past the halfway point of the 2016-17 season, Montreal finds itself in first place again, with a few points to spare. Without the pressure of maintaining a supernova-like hot streak, the Canadiens have opted for a more conservative strategy. They are in it for the long haul this time, not intending to stumble down the stretch.
One strategy they have employed is resting players coming off of injuries. Alex Galchenyuk has been quite capable in his return from the injured reserve, scoring 2 goals and 2 assists since his return from a serious injury. Galchenyuk missed practice today to undergo a “therapy day” which was the Habs parlance for an injury setback. Rather than push the still effective Galchenyuk, he is being put on the shelf for a short time until they know he can be counted upon for longer stretches. They need to repair what they have rather than push it until it’s really broken.
Obviously, last year’s injury issues revolved around Carey Price, and were much more acute. This year, the woes have been related to their skaters. Despite the less damaging problems, the Habs appear to have learned a lesson for 2017: Don’t let a good thing slip through your fingers.