Habs are ‘working a lot more on puck possession’

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A more active defense is helping the Montreal Canadiens become less reliant on Carey Price.

That’s the gist of an article by NHL.com’s Arpon Basu, who notes that the Habs’ 4-0-0 start has seen them take “54.34 percent of the shot attempts at 5-on-5, ninth in the NHL prior to games Wednesday.”

Puck possession was not a strength last year for the Canadiens. In fact, if not for their netminder’s Hart Trophy season, it’s not outlandish to suggest they could’ve missed the playoffs, as opposed to winning their division with 110 points.

“We’re working a lot more on puck possession,” said coach Michel Therrien. “It’s not that we didn’t want to last season, but we hadn’t reached that step yet as a team.”

As for that active defense, it’s helped the Habs enter the attacking zone with control of the puck, which is preferable to dumping and chasing. Captain Max Pacioretty thinks the performance of the guys on the back end is the “main reason we’ve played so well so far in the first four games.”

Montreal, by the way, has a chance to start 5-0-0 for the first time in franchise history tonight at home versus the Rangers.