The Montreal Canadiens held their first practice since the Olympic break began, and joining them on the ice for the first time in six week was Alex Galchenyuk.
Galchenyuk had not been on the ice since he was injured on January 6th when he broke his hand in a game against the Florida Panthers. The third overall pick from the 2012 NHL Draft had ten goals and 23 points in 44 games before the injury.
It is not yet determined if Galchenyuk will be ready to suit up when the Montreal Canadiens play their first game following the Olympics. The Olympic Gold Medal Game is Sunday, and the Habs travel to Detroit to take on the Red Wings on Wednesday of next week. It depends on how Galchenyuk feels over the next six days of practice, whether he will be fit to join the lineup against Detroit.
The Canadiens are desperate for a shot in the arm offensively, and hope that Galchenyuk can provide that spark. Since he was injured, the Habs have scored just 36 goals in 16 games. That includes nine in their two games prior to the Olympic break. The Habs are the lowest scoring team that is currently in a playoff position in the Eastern Conference.
Galchenyuk had been playing primarily on a third line with Lars Eller. He will in all likelihood rejoin his old linemate as soon as he returns. Eller has struggled in Galchenyuk’s absence, and if the pair of youngsters can re-ignite their chemistry, the Habs would be in excellent shape going down the stretch of the regular season.
The Canadiens are currently third in the Atlantic Division with 70 points in 59 games, just one point back of the Tampa Bay Lightning. They have a seven point cushion on the teams sitting outside the playoff picture, and look like they will be buyers at the upcoming trade deadline on March 5th.