Montreal Canadiens defenseman Arber Xhekaj
Photo credit: Hockey30

Canadiens Analyst Has Harsh Words for Arber Xhekaj and Martin St. Louis

Published January 30, 2024 at 7:22

Recently recalled by the Montreal Canadiens, the young 22-year-old defenseman, Arber Xhekaj, had two rather difficult games last week, earning three bad penalties. Moreover, on the sidelines of the game against the Penguins, the sheriff admitted that he had taken the initiative to apologize to his head coach, regretting greatly for having put his team in trouble.

However, although Martin St-Louis appreciated Xhekaj's gesture, his apologies did not seem to grant him immunity, as the number 72 of the Canadiens was left out of the lineup for the last game before the All-Star break.

After a very successful stint in the American League where Wifi notably accumulated 11 points in 17 games, and while making certain adjustments to his defensive shortcomings, his return to the NHL has not lived up to expectations. Possessing a robust style of play, he sometimes seemed unable to choose the right moments to deliver a solid hit to his opponents.

Indeed, appearing on TVA Sports after the game between the Bleu-Blanc-Rouge and the Pittsburgh Penguins, former CH forward Maxim Lapierre literally got upset against Martin St-Louis's management, accusing him of wanting to completely denature the young defenseman.

"I don't like it when you take a bull and try to make it into a little rabbit. The guy comes in. He's got character, he's got power. He's at 10 out of 10 in terms of intensity, you can tell him to go down to nine... but not two!

If the CH indeed sidelined Xhekaj because of his penalties, they're playing a dangerous game.

It becomes stressful for him to play the role of a physical player. It's like telling Caufield he won't play the next game if he misses the net. You come back from Laval, you make a mistake and you're in the stands. For me, it's like: 'Ok, I can't work anymore.'" - Maxim Lapierre

Wow! Let's say he didn't mince words in expressing his opinion on the Arber Xhekaj case.

We fully understand his remarks, and even if we want Xhekaj to continue playing with as much intensity and emotion, he absolutely must be able to choose the moments to do so. The line is thin between a physical player who hurts his team due to multiple penalties and a robust defender who imposes the law with his imposing presence.

If Wifi can avoid unnecessary penalties while continuing to practice an intimidating style of play, he will certainly become an indispensable element in Martin St-Louis's lineup. However, until then, we should not be surprised to see him miss a few games if the trend observed last week continues.

You can watch the excerpt here:

January 30   |   667 answers
Canadiens Analyst Has Harsh Words for Arber Xhekaj and Martin St. Louis

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