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Alexander Romanov checks (much) less than before
When the Canadiens traded Alexander Romanov on draft night in 2022, just about everyone in Montreal was taken by surprise. Many (including me) were disappointed to see the club part with the young Russian defenseman, especially for a young forward who was slow to take off in the NHL.

A year and a half later, Romanov is a distant memory in Montreal… and the forward acquired in return, Kirby Dach, is one of the club’s best players. He’ll have to avoid the infirmary eventually, but he’s one hell of a healthy hockey player.

Why am I telling you about Romanov today? Well, because this season, one aspect of his game seems to have changed: checking.

He used to hit like a train in Montreal. It was one of his main assets.

When we look at his numbers this season, we see that he has only 49 checks in 35 games, or 1.4 checks per game. That’s a far cry from the last two seasons, when he had 227 (2.87 per game) and 198 (2.61 per game) checks respectively.

(Credit: Screenshot/HockeyReference)

And if we look a little further, Romanov’s 49 checks would put him in 4th place with the Habs (the same position he occupies with the Islanders, by the way). He would be ahead of Michael Pezzetta (78), Josh Anderson (60) and Juraj Slafkovský (53).

What’s most interesting, however, is that he’s only just ahead of Arber Xhekaj… and Xhekaj has only played 17 games, less than half the number Romanov has played.

Is this necessarily a bad thing? The answer, according to Lane Lambert, is a pretty definitive “no”. The Islanders’ coach loves Romanov’s progress and attributes the fact that his protégé hits the opposition less often to the fact that, in the end, he plays better.

He has possession of the puck more often and plays better defensively. It’s not for nothing that he forms an excellent pair with Noah Dobson on Long Island, and Romanov himself acknowledges that he’s trying to play smarter rather than “trying to hit the opposition at all costs”.

Obviously, with the Habs’ congestion on the blue line, Romanov would have been superfluous, but it’s still good news to see him develop into an excellent defenseman in New York.

And with Kirby Dach showing his potential as a top-6 center (and maybe even a first-team center), the Habs can’t be too sad about the deal either.

In bursts

– Nothing less.

– It’s pretty crazy.

– Sean Farrell is in fine form.

– I’m thinking the same thing.


– An amount that makes people react.

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