Montreal Canadiens defenseman Arber Xhekaj
Photo credit: Sportsnet

Martin St-Louis Sends a Serious Message to Arber Xhekaj and Makes a Big Request

Published February 8, 2024 at 8:23 PM

Right after the Montreal Canadiens' morning practice, head coach Martin St-Louis made some very interesting remarks during his press briefing, notably praising Juraj Slafkovsky for his constant progression since the start of the season.

However, he was much more cutting when asked about the level of play presented by defender Arber Xhekaj since his call-up from the Laval Rocket. Indeed, Martin St-Louis did not mince words, criticizing the decisions made by his young protege in recent matches.

He clearly indicated that the sheriff must stop continuously repeating the same mistakes, as he seems to always be behind the play. This response possibly explains why number 72 played less than 13 minutes in two of the three games he has played since his return to the main team.

"You know, I always say this... Make mistakes, but stop making the same one... You need to learn from your mistakes a bit there...

So no, he had a good time in Laval, I saw him play with the Rocket, but I think he needs more repetitions at this stage, to really get used to the game (NHL) which is faster." - Martin St-Louis

Although his statement may seem harsh, it is entirely appropriate. Despite the fact that I like Xhekaj a lot, he absolutely must improve his decision-making, having incurred several unnecessary penalties recently.

Moreover, he should not hesitate to use his imposing size to enforce the law in defensive territory. He seems less and less willing to bring this aspect of his game forward (for fear of being penalized?) and it makes a big difference in his effectiveness, as he is primarily known for his physical play.

Fortunately, Martin St-Louis is confident that his defender will be able to bounce back. He mentioned that Xhekaj showed encouraging signs against the Capitals, adding that Wifi had an exemplary attitude and was desperate to learn from his mistakes.

Let's hope he can return to his level of play from last year when he quickly became an essential element in the Montreal formation.

See his full intervention right here:

February 8   |   507 answers
Martin St-Louis Sends a Serious Message to Arber Xhekaj and Makes a Big Request

Do you believe that Arber Xhekaj will still be part of the Canadiens' plans in two years?

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