Gerard Gallant has been a coach in the NHL for 445 games, winning 222 of them. He’s been the head man of three different teams, won the Jack Adams Award, and brought his team to within three wins of lifting the Stanley Cup. Yet, heading into game 446, he’s still figuring things out.
I look back at how (Oscar Lindberg) missed a bunch of games in a row and I said to him in the last week or so that you know what, I probably shouldn’t have done it that way. I don’t like doing it that way, sitting a player that long, but that’s the way it happened and moving forward I probably wouldn’t do that again. I’ll probably give a guy a chance a lot quicker to get back in the lineup. You look at those situations and you learn something new every day. -Gerard Gallant
Prior to his re-insertion into the lineup on 12/4 against Washington, Oscar Lindberg had been a healthy scratch for six straight games. Before that, he played in two but was scratched for the previous nine. All in all, Lindberg has sat out of 20 of the Golden Knights 36 games and before the current seven-game stretch of being in the lineup, he hadn’t played more than four in straight all season.
We recently wrote about how Lindberg’s strong play has forced Gallant to make a few lineup moves, but the revelation that he doesn’t like the idea of sitting a player out that long is interesting to say the least, especially when you consider the fact that Lindberg has played well under the circumstances.
How much does this change Gallant’s thinking moving forward? Does it mean we start seeing more of Jon Merrill and Brad Hunt?
And Gallant wasn’t done, he elaborated a bit further.
One guy’s got to come out and the good thing is, and I said it a lot last year, I’m not sitting guys out because they aren’t playing well, I’m sitting guys out because everybody’s playing well and it’s going to be a tough decision. They are always tough decisions when you sit guys out. -Gallant
Very rarely are we privy to the actual reasons why each of these tough decisions are made, but the actions of the coach certainly tend to point to injury or poor play on the majority of them. Aside from the few games following the Golden Knights clinching the Pacific Division, the term “rest” was rarely, if ever, used as a reason to sit a player out for a game. Is it possible that will become, or has already become, a part of Gallant’s repertoire on why to sit players?
Tonight he has to make another decision as Brandon Pirri appears to be cemented into the Max Pacioretty role following Max’s injury. Last game it was Ryan Carpenter that drew out, only the second time he’d been scratched all year. The game before it was Reaves, his only scratch of the season. Will it be Nosek, Bellemare, Carrier, Eakin or maybe even one of the top six?
We shall find out shortly, but one thing we have learned is that Gallant doesn’t intend to leave whoever he takes out for long.