Saturday, December 1, 2012

Galchenyuk scores three, adds an assist.

December 1st, 2012
Sarnia Sting defeat the Peterborough Petes 5-2

Alex Galchenyuk
- 3 goals (1-1st period, 1-2nd period, 1-3rd period)
- 1 assist (1-3rd period)
- +3 rating

- 1 turnovers (1-1st period)
- 4 takeaways (2-1st period, 2-2nd period)

- Did not take any face-offs tonight. Lined up for one in the 1st, but was tossed from the circle.

Time on ice
1st period; 8 shifts - 7:41 TOI
2nd period; 7 shifts - 7:23 TOI
3rd period; 9 shifts - 7:08 TOI
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TOTALS; 24 shifts - 22:12 TOI

Thoughts
1st period: On just his second shift, Galchenyuk opened the scoring after sneakily stealing the puck from the defender, cruising into the slot and firing a wrist shot five-hole. Had some time on the PP and PK, but proved to be ineffective during both in the period, giving up a goal on the PK and also turning the puck over while on the PP. Galchenyuk had moments where he could have added a few more assists, setting up Boucher for shots in the slot, but passes either went wide or bobbled on Boucher's stick. Something I do like of his game, even if they gave up a PP goal, is the way he protects the point shot by taking away the passing lane between the defense and the winger on his side. Always alert and in perfect position.

2nd period: Galchenyuk put his defensive work to the test in the 2nd when he played quite a lot of time on the PK. In two shifts, Galchenyuk stole the puck twice. Once, it led to a quality scoring chance when he got the puck out in front and fed Latta for a one-timer in the slot. However, the shot went wide. Galchenyuk also had a chance to score again, but his back-hand attempt was stopped. Had he lifted it just a little bit, the puck would have been in the back of the net. Late in the period, while on the powerplay, Galchenyuk picked up his second of the night and 18th of the season on his second shot of the period.

3rd period: The Galchenyuk line played pretty conservative to start the period off. They gained the blue line and would fire shots from the perimeter, with not much chance of scoring a goal. Once the Petes scored to bring the lead down to a goal, Galchenyuk's line went right back to work. Just a minute after the Petes goal, Galchenyuk went back to work as he stick-handled the puck near the side board before firing a slick pass to Boucher, who made no mistake about it, burying his 21st of the season. As the period was drawing to a close, the Petes pulled  their goaltender only to see Galchenyuk notch his 3rd of the night and 19th of the season. Sarault made a very unselfish play, sending the puck to Galchenyuk in front of the net, instead of firing the puck in himself.

Final word
Galchenyuk started off the month of December on a very high note. His four point night tonight brings him to 3rd in the OHL scoring race with 48 points, just one behind London Knight's Seth Griffith. Galchenyuk may be raking up the points against bottom-dwelling teams like Peterborough and Saginaw, but it's the play without the puck that has really been fascinating me over the last few games. While defending in his own end, Galchenyuk always knows where he needs to be and very rarely leaves the passing lane open for a point shot. His stick work is phenomenal when retrieving the puck out of corners and his use of the body to separate the player from the puck is very good as well. Also, a few times tonight, I saw him communicating constantly with the defensemen while he was pitching down low, which is a great sign of leadership.

I was a bit disappointed with the lack of face-offs tonight. He did line up once, but unfortunately was thrown out. I thought he would get a few chances while on the PK, but Beaulieu opted to pair him with Latta, and have Latta work the face-offs. It paid off in the end, as Latta won the majority of his draws, one leading to a scoring chance after an offensive zone draw.

Galchenyuk's work with the puck... well, what else is needed to be said? There are times where he ran into a bit of trouble, holding on the puck for a little too long and turning it over but for the most part, he was great. Even with little room, he manages to bounce the puck off the boards and get himself out of pressure. He also knows how to open up passing lanes, drawing players to double team him before passing to the point. His shot is, as we all know, a beautiful one but his playmaking ability has also been put on spotlight over the last few months. Another thing that brings a smile to my face is the way he can control a puck when it's bouncing on his stick. A few times tonight, the puck hobbled on his stick and he simply batted it down and gained complete control. That kind of discipline is something you see in the NHL. Such focus is something we rarely see in the OHL.

Is he NHL ready? I'm still skeptic. I won't right it off completely, but I want to see how his season with the Sting ends before giving my judgment. At this point, I think a stint with the Bulldogs would benefit him greatly next year.


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