Grading Stephane Robidas' season

Stephane Robidas has done his best coaching a relatively young and inexperienced blueline through the rebuild.
Tampa Bay Lightning v Montreal Canadiens
Tampa Bay Lightning v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages
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The Montreal Canadiens rebuild is all hands on deck and with it, the young blueline is being built from the ground up.

While the architect of the defence, well parts of it is no longer employed by the club he set the groundwork for a solid group. The current builder, Kent Hughes, brought in Mike Matheson and claimed Johnathan Kovacevic off waivers from the Winnipeg Jets. But the man calling the shots, Stephane Robidas has kept the group tight-knit and cohesive.

The odds are that the group will continue getting younger, which says a lot considering that at one point, the blueline were all under 25 minus Matheson and David Savard. The group consisted of Justin Barron, 23, Kaiden Guhle, 22, Arber Xhekaj, 23, and Jordan Harris, 24. The four young guys were a year younger than I indicated, but Robidas had a fairly inexperienced group.

Lane Hutson, Logan Mailloux and David Reinbacher should all don the Canadiens sweater at some point this year, which will continue to make the defence younger. Coaching a veteran defence is a tall task, even with the most experienced players. Offensive players are so fast and skilled in today's game, so defence coaches need to be able to adapt on the fly.

Nobody is going to argue that the Habs need to get better all-around, that is glaringly obvious. But Robidas has managed to get some solid play out of his young group, blending his younger players with the older guys in a way that helps them develop on the fly. The help from the older guys is immense for the young guys and the young guys rub off their youthful energy on the veterans.

Robidas also left a solid mark on the penalty kill, which finished the season clicking at 76.5%, which is reasonably solid for a team that failed to qualify for the playoffs. With the group a year older and the talented Hutson joining the fold, expectations are for the defence to increase their goal production. But they also have more experience defending and maintaining their gap control to slow the opposition.

Robidas and the blueline have a ways to go before the defence is at the calibre they need to be to compete in the playoffs, so for that reason, Robidas season is worthy of a C.

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