Montreal Canadiens: Habs Recall Arber Xhekaj Ahead Of Clash With The Senators

Tampa Bay Lightning v Montreal Canadiens
Tampa Bay Lightning v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

The Montreal Canadiens announced a flurry of roster moves on Monday, culminating in Arber Xhekaj getting called up to the Habs.

Mitchell Stephens was put on waivers and Justin Barron was sent down to Laval earlier in the day. There are just three centers in the lineup indicating another move on the horizon. Xhekaj is a case of brilliant play and the Senators taking liberties against Montreal. 

With the Sheriff in the lineup, Brady Tkachuk is sure to have his hands full, should he wish to challenge him. Xhekaj’s presence speaks for itself and with his confidence at an all-time high, the Senators will have their hands full. It will be interesting to see how his offensive zone confidence will translate to the NHL.

While I felt sending Barron down and calling Xhekaj up makes sense, I do have questions. How comfortable is Martin St Louis with dressing two right-side defensemen? Is Marty as high on Jayden Struble as I am?

A testament to the confidence that Struble has been given from the club, is the fact that he will likely play on the second pair. I think Kaiden Guhle - Mike Matheson will be tried again, the Struble with David Savard and Xhekaj with Jordan Harris on the third pair. Johnathan Kovacevic will rotate in, but the strength of the left side is superior to the right, at the moment.

Xhekaj Back To Battle Senators

I wrote about the Canadiens treating their Tuesday night matchup as a revenge game. Avenging their 6-2 Thursday night loss against the Senators would be priority number one. Ottawa was chippy and took things too far at times.

Xhekaj could have argued for his place in the lineup on Thursday night, so this call-up makes a lot of sense. The dramatics of the decision are high. I think it’s safe to bet that No. 72 will get a standing ovation from the Bell Centre crowd.

If a script could be written better, I would include a fight between Xhekaj and Tkachuk. With a little animosity built up, this game could have a real rivalry feel to it. Montreal is sort of like the dog with its back up against the wall, and Xhekaj - the biggest of the bunch is ready to get back into this Atlantic division clash.

With the Habs needing a win to end their slide, Xhekaj’s physical presence will be immense. Throw in the fact that he has undergone some growth offensively, he is sure to impact the game early, if possible. He has proven that there is so much room for him to grow, and he can hurt opponents on the scoresheet as well as he can with his mammoth fists.

I’ll take a Gordie Howe hat trick for the Sheriff in his return to the lineup. A goal, an assist and a fight would surely get the crowd rocking. if anybody can inject some energy into the lineup, it’s Xhekaj.

How he intends to do that is yet to be seen, but I will be keenly watching to find out. Welcome back, Arby. We have missed you.

- Signed, Habs fans.