Brendan Gallagher's game has changed, but his goal remains the same

Gallagher continues to show up for the Habs and play much bigger than his size.
Montreal Canadiens v New York Islanders
Montreal Canadiens v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

Montreal Canadiens super pest Brendan Gallagher isn't likely to register any more 20-goal seasons, but there are signs that he can still be an effective piece for the team.

The 31-year-old hasn't reached the 20-goal mark since he registered 22 goals in the 2019-20 season. But it is worth noting that he also hasn't played a full 82-game schedule since 2018-19 when he scored 33 goals. Health has been an issue for Gallagher throughout his whole career, simply because he drives his body like he stole it.

Anybody who has watched Gallagher in any form since the start of his career knows all too well that he isn't about to change that. Nor would anyone want him to change his style, it is what has made him successful and so difficult to play against. But it is also what has shortened his last six seasons, although this season has seen him play the most games (77) since he played 82 in 18-19.

But with his drop in production, Gallagher has found other ways to have a positive impact on the team. He never quits on pucks and when he does get into board battles, he somehow manages to come out of them with the puck more often than not. Also, despite often being the smallest player on the ice, you can bet on him always being in the middle of the action.

Gallagher might have been a top-six forward in his heyday, but he is now more of a middle-six forward and his salary doesn't match that. But the fact that he is still able to help the team positively and battle every night is a positive. He has the skills, otherwise he wouldn't have carved out the career that he did, but his motor is what drives his game.

So long as he can skate, shoot and breathe air, he will continue doing his thing and this season has been proof of how effective he still is. His infectious style is especially important at the end of a long season when he is still rushing the opposition's crease and taking slashes in the back of his legs, it inspires teammates. Gallagher is a team player through and through and he is the type of player you win with.

When Nick Suzuki was named captain of the Habs, Gallagher didn't hang his head or complain about it. Instead, he continued putting the team first and ensured that Suzuki had the support he needed to lead the Original Six franchise. On Tuesday night when rookie Lane Hutson recorded his first NHL point, assisting on a Gallagher goal, No. 11 let Hutson lead the line to the bench to celebrate with props.

It isn't always the big things, in fact, it's more often the small things that go unnoticed that Gallagher does, which endear him to the team. His determination to retrieve pucks and unselfishness to block shots and battle the biggest foes also make him a locker room favourite, So, while he isn't producing like he once did, he is still doing plenty to warrant a role as one of the 12 forwards.