BROSSARD - At the team’s annual golf tournament at the Laval-Sur-le-Lac Golf Club in Laval earlier this month, the Canadiens organization revealed that Alex Galchenyuk would transition to center this season.
Galchenyuk’s shift to center has been eased by the addition of his new line mates Alexander Semin and Lars Eller. In the first inter-squad game on Friday, Galchenyuk and Semin displayed instant chemistry in the offensive zone while the addition of Lars Eller on left-wing helped ensure the line’s accountability in the defensive zone.
In the second inter-squad game Saturday morning, it was Eller who provided the line’s offensive spark with two goals in a 4-2 victory for Team Red. “Even in practice, especially at the beginning, you have to compete and get in the habit of trying to score and trying to make plays, really trying your best. So it’s always nice to see the puck go in” admitted Eller, who is taking full advantage of his new line mate and offseason recruit Alexander Semin’s ability to control the play in the offensive zone. “I’ve seen him do it before in games, but still every time you see it you are wowed a little bit. We all know he has those abilities and hopefully we are going to see a lot of that this year”
Although Eller’s sharp defensive acumen improves the line’s accountability in the defensive zone, coach Michel Therrien was adamant that wasn’t the reason why he was chosen to play with the two offensively gifted players. “This is not one of the reasons why I put Eller on this trio” assured Therrien, who admitted that he informed Lars earlier this summer that he would be moving to the wing. “He’s in good position on the ice. I’ve watched him for four years. Before when he was at center, and now in the last two intra-squad games on the wing, he’s played well,” praised Therrien. “I’ve always believed in Lars’ skill….and he’s had a great start as we’ve seen today.”
The undeniable chemistry between Galchenyuk and Semin is in part due to the duo’s ability to communicate in Russian on the bench. The newest Habs’ addition has already left quite an impression on Galchenyuk. “There’s nothing not to like. His skill is tremendous, he’s got a powerful, powerful shot, and my job is obviously to create space for him so he can get scoring opportunities,” admired Galchenyuk. “When he gets the puck in the offensive zone he is obviously very dangerous.”
After the Habs third and final scrimmage, Sunday afternoon at 1:00 p.m at the Bell Centre, the team faces their first real test against the Toronto Maple Leafs Tuesday night. Tryout hopeful Tomas Fleischmann, who showcased his soft hands on a penalty shot goal against Mike Condon, will continue his bid to crack the opening night roster.
Only time will tell if the line of Eller, Galchenyuk and Semin will remain intact for the regular season, but if training camp is any indication, Eller might want to invest in a Russian dictionary.
Jared Ostroff is a writer for Canadiens.com
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