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Montreal Canadiens

Jordan Harris and Jonathan Kovacevic Pairing Providing Stability

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Montreal Canadiens defenceman Jordan Harris

There were several question marks regarding the Montreal Canadiens heading into the 2022-23 season, with the biggest red flag coming in the form of a very inexperienced blue line populated by players like Jordan Harris and Jonathan Kovacevic.

With just 14 games of combined NHL experience, the pairing was tasked with third-pairing duties by head coach Martin St-Louis to start the season, and the results have been nothing short of incredibly encouraging.

For example, in the first game of the season, the Canadiens generated nine high-danger chances, and Harris was on the ice for six of them. In total, while he was on the ice, Harris controlled 67 percent (6 for, 3 against) of the high-danger chances, 61 percent of the shot attempts (22 for, 14 against) and had a 61 percent expected goals for percentage (xGF%).

Kovacevic’s numbers weren’t as stellar, but he still finished behind Harris as the second-best defenceman from a statistical standpoint. He also showed he can hold the offensive zone, whether by traditional or innovative methods.

Of course, much like the discussion surrounding Kirby Dach and Sean Monahan‘s early success, it’s important to remember the current sample size is rather small, indicating significant changes could come very soon.

It’s also key to remember their assignment rarely involves facing the opposing team’s top players, and they’ve played a significant portion of their shifts with the aforementioned Dach and Monahan line,  but as it stands, the third pairing has emerged as one of the bright spots on defence.

With the news of Mike Matheson’s injury, there’s little doubt players such as Kaiden Guhle, David Savard and Chris Wideman will have their hands full in the upcoming stretch of games, placing even more importance on having a third line that can not only make a positive impact in their own zone but also contribute in the offensive zone.

Harris and Kovacevic may not have much NHL experience under their belt, however, they’re currently outplaying the vast majority of third pairings around the league, and given their salaries, the Montreal Canadiens couldn’t ask for more.

(Statistics are 5v5 unless otherwise noted, via NaturalStatTrick)

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habbernack

Kovacevic learned in the AHL. Batherson for the Sens. 2 yrs in the “A”. Harris in college playing against older competition. Development. Apprenticeship.

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