MONTREAL – Tomas Plekanec’s line might be firing on all cylinders, but counting on a single trio to deliver the bulk of the offensive punch isn’t a recipe for success down the stretch.
Plekanec himself – flanked by Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher – has torched the opposition for three goals and eight points over the last four games, helping to get the Canadiens back on track heading into a three-game road swing featuring stops in Buffalo, Arizona and Colorado over the next six days.
It’s a critical trek, to say the least, and Michel Therrien’s troops up and down the lineup are well aware of the need to step up their contributions offensively if they hope to keep their playoff hopes alive. In short, the Canadiens' No. 14 – and his linemates – can’t be the only ones registering their names all over the scoresheet on a nightly basis.
“We need to follow up on what other guys are doing if we want to have success and keep it going. At the start of the year, everyone was chipping in and there was a different hero each game,” shared David Desharnais, who has been held without a point over the last seven games. “You can’t get discouraged, though. When it’s our turn, we need to make it happen. Right now, Pleky’s line is doing really good work. If we want to string wins together, it can’t always be the same guys contributing. We just have to be ready when it’s our turn to contribute.”
Desharnais, who hasn’t beaten an opposing netminder since Jan. 23 and has been held to just one goal in his last 15 games, knows stat lines like that aren’t good enough given the situation the Canadiens currently find themselves in. The fact that Plekanec recently turned the tables on a rough stretch of his own, however, is providing the centerman with some all-important inspiration heading into Friday night’s contest against the Sabres.
“I can really look at what a guy like Plekanec is doing right now and be inspired by it. I know I need to do more,” admitted Desharnais, who has nine goals and 24 points in 55 games during the 2015-16 campaign. “Everybody goes through tough times. Pleky is playing really, really well right now, and I need to get on a roll like him.”
With that in mind, Therrien added young gun Sven Andrighetto to Desharnais’ line – that also includes captain Max Pacioretty – during the second period on Tuesday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning, hoping the Swiss winger’s quickness and intensity can get them going in the right direction.
“I can bring speed and energy. It’s a good opportunity for me to play with those two guys. They’re excellent players. It’s a great chance to learn, to find my place and make them better, too, with my skills,” said Andrighetto, who will play his 22nd game of the season with the CH on Friday night. “I wouldn’t say that I feel pressure playing with those guys. I’m excited about the idea. I’m hoping it works.”
As does Therrien, who is also counting on Desharnais and Pacioretty to display some of the magic they’ve managed to generate in recent years while serving as the Canadiens’ most-utilized duo since 2011-12.
“[In their case], we want to keep things the way they are right now. Guys like Pacioretty and Desharnais have had success in the past together. I still have faith that they can do it again,” said Therrien, who may also have speedster Paul Byron back in the lineup against Buffalo. “That’s a duo that has always had the ability to perform and produce. That’s why I have confidence in them.”
Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.
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