Canadiens' lack of size doesn't matter, again

Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

The Montreal Canadiens are the smallest team in the NHL, yet they're the first team to advance to the second round.

In October of every year James Mirtle from the Globe and Mail breaks down the average heights and weights of each NHL team. At that time, the Montreal Canadiens were the smallest team in the NHL, reaching an average height of 72.2 inches, or more familiarly, a hair over 6'0" tall.

The Tampa Bay Lightning were the tallest team in the NHL at 74.2 inches on average, or just over 6'2". If you pay attention to local media, you would know that this is an insurmountable problem to overcome, especially considering the teams finished around equal in the regular seasons. So with all things being equal, size obviously wins out. Only we just saw the Canadiens sweep the Tampa bay Lightning, and did so without Carey Price stealing a single game. In fact, they outplayed the Lightning by an extreme margin, 56.4% of all unblocked shot attempts (Fenwick) while the score was close belonged to the Canadiens (second in the playoffs), and their score-adjusted Fenwick, the most accurate predictor of future success, is the best of any team in the playoffs at 57.7%.

The Canadiens accomplished this with a played 5'9" or under on all four lines, and a third pairing on defense that was 5'10" and 5'8" in Mike Weaver and Francis Bouillon.

The average height of the Canadiens' skaters in the playoff series against the Lightning was 71.2 inches (5'11"), under the average height going into the season due to the exclusion of Carey Price, George Parros, and Douglas Murray, with the average height of Tampa Bay's skaters being 73.3 inches, slightly shorter than Mirtle's calculations because I've excluded goalies Anders Lindback and obviously the injured Ben Bishop.

"In the last 3 years, this is as big and physical as the Montreal Canadiens have been." -Bob McKenzie

TSN's Bob McKenzie was on Montreal radio this morning saying that the Canadiens are bigger than usual, and more physical. While he may be correct about the Canadiens being more physical, he's wrong about them being bigger. In fact, these Canadiens were a full inch shorter than the Canadiens of the previous two seasons, (72.3 inches in 2011-12, 72.3 inches in 2012-13).

In fact, the Canadiens have been less physical under Michel Therrien than they were under Jacques Martin and Randy Cunneyworth according to research into real time stats done by our very own Arik Parnass.

The Canadiens rank tenth in the playoffs in hits with 94, while Tampa Bay ranked fourth with 132. Montreal was 20th in hits this regular season, 20th last season, and 17th in 2011-12. Surely size and physicality can be written off here.

In a series against a defense core that averaged 74.8 inches in height, every forward under 5'11" scored at least once for the Canadiens, totalling eight of the fifteen goals Montreal would score in four games to close out the sweep.

It's almost like size doesn't really matter.

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