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Timely reunions

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

VANCOUVER – In the midst of his most productive period early on this season, Brendan Gallagher will have a chance to connect with family and friends during the Canadiens' visit to Western Canada.

Flying somewhat under the radar during training camp and over the course of the first few games of the year, Gallagher struggled to get on the scoresheet as the 2015-16 campaign got underway in early October. His trademark tenacity and relentlessness were there as always, but the 23-year-old forward simply wasn’t getting the results he’d been looking for. It seemed that he was just missing that small spark that would get him back on track.

The catalyst for Gallagher’s recent offensive breakout came on October 17 when he found the back of the net against the Detroit Red Wings after crashing into goaltender Petr Mrazek once the puck had already crossed the goal line. The tally definitely got people talking, and Gallagher hasn’t slowed down since. As expected, the Canadiens’ No. 11 has become an integral part of the squad’s remarkable early-season success, and it’s safe to say he’d be happy to lace up his skates just about every day to keep things rolling during one of the best sequences of his young career.

“I try to show up every game and do what I can. The more often you play with your linemates, the more chemistry you’ll build with them and different things are going to happen. Right now, pucks are going in for me. It’s certainly been nice,” admitted Gallagher, who has scored four goals in his last four games, and currently ranks fifth on the team with nine points. “As a team, we’ve been doing a good job of making sure everyone is showing up and competing. I’m just trying to do my part.”

Making almost every opportunity count as of late, Gallagher has no intention of taking his foot off the gas during the Canadiens’ current three-game road swing with plenty of reunions planned all week long. An Edmonton native, the small-in-stature winger called Alberta home until the age of 12, before moving to British Columbia with his parents and residing in suburban Vancouver. Given that Michel Therrien’s troops make just one regular season visit to Western Canada every year, Gallagher will surely try to spend as much time as possible with loved ones during the trip. In his case, however, that won’t serve as a distraction at all. Gallagher won’t change the way he goes about his business on the ice, especially with the way things are going.

“It’s always fun to come out here. You don’t get the chance to play in front of your family and friends that much. I always look forward for it. I know they’re all excited, and hopefully we’ll get a win for them,” cracked Gallagher, who still holds the record for the most goals and most points in Vancouver Giants (WHL) franchise history. “I’m going to have at least 10 of them in Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary, too. I have a lot of cousins who live in Saskatchewan, and Calgary is actually closer for them.”

Given his slower-than-expected start, some might have thought that the weight of a brand new six-year contract - or taking on a new role as assistant captain at a rather young age - might prove to be far too much pressure for Gallagher to bear. In his case, however, it definitely isn’t true. A remarkable competitor, he wants his team to count on him, and the fact that the Canadiens’ brass has shown complete confidence in his abilities time and again only fuels his desire to give everything he’s got every single time he hits the ice. That will surely be the case again on Tuesday night against the Canucks.

“I try to be the same guy as I was before. I try not to think of those things. It’s obviously a little more responsibility, and you have to understand how to get a feel for the team, but it hasn’t changed anything about my game,” stressed Gallagher, who won’t be sporting a letter on his jersey this week because he only wears the “A” at home. “Pucks are going in for me right now. I haven’t done anything differently since the beginning of the year. Sometimes, you get bounces. Sometimes, you don’t. I try not to look at goals and assists to judge how I’m playing, but how much you have the puck, playing in the offensive zone, and how many offensive chances you can create. I just feel that game after game we’re getting better. We just have to continue doing it.”

Hugo Fontaine is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Matt Cudzinowski.

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