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The Habs have the NHL’s best numerical disadvantage in a month
Credit: Capture d'écran / Screenshot

Even if the Canadiens don’t make the playoffs this season, there are still a few things to remember about the 2023-24 campaign in Montreal. The emergence of Juraj Slafkovský is probably the most striking element, but we’ve also seen several players improve on an individual level.

This hasn’t yet translated into points in the standings, but whether it’s Nick Suzuki, Arber Xhekaj or Jayden Struble, there’s a lot to take away from the last few months.

That said, the Habs’ defensive system was heavily criticized earlier this season. Partly due to the fact that the brigade relies on very young defenders, it felt fragile at best.

On the other hand, if we talked about it when things weren’t going so well, we also have to talk about it when things are going well… and over the past month, there’s been some very good stuff on this front.

A case in point? Since February 18 (so, in the last month), the Habs have had the best numerical disadvantage in the NHL, with an efficiency rate of 87.9%.

(Credit: Screenshot/

However, it gets even more interesting when you look at the club’s one-man short-handed stats since February 25, when the efficiency is… 96.2%.

During the same period, only the Flames (91.7%) also surpassed the 90% mark in terms of short-handed efficiency.

Of course, we have to give a ton of credit to the main architects of this success: David Savard and Kaiden Guhle, who play some very big minutes at the numerical disadvantage, come to mind, but Jake Evans and Joel Armia do an excellent job there too.

Armia has been the talk of Montreal fans on more than one occasion in recent years, but this season he’s playing big hockey that’s not getting the recognition it deserves. He’s no Hart Trophy contender, far from it, but he’s giving the Habs big, big minutes.

Stéphane Robidas, who looks after the PK in Montreal, was keen to give Armia some big love in front of the media today, noting the importance of his great range and his ability to put pressure on the opposition when the Habs are short a man.

It helps the Habs to stay in the games they play (in fact, during this winning streak, they’ve played against big clubs like the Bruins, Panthers and Predators), and more importantly, to deliver big defensive performances like Thursday night’s against the Bruins.

And that’s an encouraging sign for a young team trying to improve.

In bursts

– That’s right.

– Finally a win for the Red Wings.

– Great read.

– It could attract teams, including the Astros.

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