Canadiens prospect Arber Xhekaj doesn’t get ‘much respect’ from young Senators


Xhekaj crushed Viktor Lodin along the boards in the first half in what Angus Crookshank called a “dirty blow”.

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BUFFALO, NY — There’s no love lost between Canadiens defensive prospect Arber Xhekaj and the Ottawa Senators.

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The 6-foot-4, 238-pound player was a one-man wrecking crew on Sunday as the Montreal rookies wrapped up the 2022 Prospects Challenge with a 7-2 win over the Senators.

Xhekaj set the tone of the game when he crushed Viktor Lodin along the boards in the first half, sending the Swede to the locker room with an upper body injury. There was no penalty on the play but Angus Crookshank, who suffered a season-ending knee injury when he was tagged by Xhekaj in last year’s Rookie Tournament, took it on. called a “dirty trick”.

“If you ask anyone in the room, there’s not a lot of respect for this guy and how he behaves,” Crookshank said. “At the end of the day, it’s hockey and you’re not going to like everyone, but it’s hard to see a guy like (Lodin) go down for sure.”

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Xhekaj was whistled for boarding after a hit in the second period and when he came out of the box he was faced with Zachary Massicotte, who is 6-foot-4 and 216 pounds. The two heavyweights clashed. Xhekaj landed five right hands before sending Massicotte down the ice with a suspected concussion.

“He showed courage defending his teammates,” Xhekaj said. “Somebody had to do it and I give him credit for it. But you hate to see a guy go down like that. It could happen to any of us.

Xhekaj met with the referees after the second period to complain that Finn Roby Jarventie yelled at him from the Ottawa bench.

“One of their guys was making bad comments (and) I had none of that,” Xhekaj said. “He’s not allowed to say that, so I approached him and made sure they were aware of it.”

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While Xhekaj said he liked to make his teammates smile with his big hits, he was happy with his overall defensive game.

“The first game, I was running too much, I was excited the first game,” Xhekaj said. “I was coming out of my position, but today I let the game come to me and it was much better.”

“He hit a lot and it’s tiring to play against,” said coach Jean-François Houle. “It is very robust and skates well. He also has skills, it’s not fair to think he’s just physical. When you have a guy like him on your team, it calms things down a bit. It’s good for everyone around him.

Parker-Jones grateful for the opportunity: Defenseman John Parker-Jones isn’t sure if he’ll be invited to main training camp this week, but he’s grateful for the chance to say he scored a goal in a Canadiens jersey.

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“It’s amazing not many people are so lucky,” said Parker-Jones, who received an invite to the camp after spending last season at the University of Windsor. “I think of those who didn’t have this opportunity, of teammates who would also have deserved it. I was determined not to let this opportunity slip through my fingers. I’m just glad I left everything there.

Parker-Jones, who is 6-foot-7 and weighs 230 pounds, was undrafted after three seasons with the Peterborough Petes and signed up for Windsor last fall. He was a forward but switched to defense midway through his second season with the Petes because the team was short on defenders.

He channeled his offensive skills when he scored a shorthanded goal on Sunday.

“I had a chance to touch the puck and then I got past the guy,” Parker-Jones said. “I was lucky to have this chance and I took advantage of it.”

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