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Canadiens Analysis

Struble Making Case For Permanent NHL Assignment vs Canes



montreal canadiens defneceman Jayden Struble

After a few days off to celebrate with their families, the Montreal Canadiens are embarking on the second half of a seven-game road trip, visiting the Carolina Hurricanes.

For the occasion, Jordan Harris re-integrated the lineup – forcing Johnathan Kovacevic to sit out – and Cayden Primeau got the nod, marking the first time a goaltender got two starts in a row this season.

Fun fact: Harris got to play with former Northeastern University teammate, Jayden Struble, for the first time on a National Hockey League (NHL) ice.

Giving Season

‘Tis the season, and the goaltenders were feeling generous on both sides, in the first period!

While the Hurricanes played the night before, they still had more jump early on, severely outshooting the Habs and scoring two quick goals to start the frame.

By the time the local team registered these goals, the Montreal Canadiens only had three shots on goal.

But Mitchell Stephens cut the lead in half after a great effort from Jesse Ylönen to negate the icing.

And Mike Matheson added a buzzer-beating, powerplay goal to bring everyone to square one, right before the end of the first.

Both goaltenders finished the night with sub .900% save percentages (Primeau with a .853% save percentage and Anti Raant, .857%).

So, yeah, it was not exactly a goaltender duel.

Here Come Struble

With the return of Jordan Harris, the Montreal Canadiens’ defence corps situation gets even more complicated.

With Kovacevic sitting out and Arber Xhekaj playing in Laval, there simply are too many young NHL-level players and too few spots.

In theory, sending rookie Jayden Struble down makes a lot of sense, as he is waiver-exempt, but he simply has been too good – and tonight was no exception. His pairing with Harris was probably the best one, tonight.

Struble played a solid, smart, and efficient contest, adding another assist in the process. He was also one of the few players who could stop the Hurricanes’ cycles and rushes with his physical play, and won a few 50-50 battles, an area of the game where the Hurricanes dominated completely.

No.47 also keeps showing he’s mature and composed, and keeps his head cool, even when challenged by opponents. It doesn’t look like he’ll be sent down any time soon.

So, unless a trade happens or injuries start plaguing Montreal Canadiens defencemen again, all signs point to Arber Xhekaj having to embrace life in Laval.

When It Rains It Pours

Josh Anderson’s luck has finally turned.

The 29-year-old couldn’t buy a goal for what felt like the longest time, at the start of the season.

But after a bold statement from his coach, it appears the right winger – who now has five goals in his last five games – might be back after all.

And while he didn’t have a particularly impressive game, he at least found a way to impact the game, tying it in the third frame, and allowing his team to stay in it until the very end.