Montreal Canadiens: Cayden Primeau Should Start Over Charlie Lindgren

MONTREAL, QC - DECEMBER 11: Cayden Primeau (30) of the Montreal Canadiens tends net during the first period of the NHL game between the Ottawa Senators and the Montreal Canadiens on December 11, 2019, at the Bell Centre in Montreal, QC (Photo by Vincent Ethier/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
MONTREAL, QC - DECEMBER 11: Cayden Primeau (30) of the Montreal Canadiens tends net during the first period of the NHL game between the Ottawa Senators and the Montreal Canadiens on December 11, 2019, at the Bell Centre in Montreal, QC (Photo by Vincent Ethier/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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The Montreal Canadiens will be without star goaltender Carey Price for tonight’s game. They should start young Cayden Primeau over Charlie Lindgren who had been serving as Price’s backup lately.

The Montreal Canadiens are in a difficult position with about one third of the season remaining. They sit almost ten points out of the final playoff spot and will need a miraculous finish to the season to get anywhere near the postseason.

Carey Price was playing far better lately and if anyone can carry the Canadiens on a miraculous run, it would have to be their goaltender. Unfortunately, Price is sick and will miss tonight’s game with the flu. He started the past three games in a four day stretch through Super Bowl weekend and was terrific in wins over the Buffalo Sabres and Florida Panthers.

Those two games were key games against teams that were higher than the Habs in the Atlantic Division. Losing to either of them would have made their already improbable quest for the postseason even more unrealistic. Price stopped 49 of 50 shots in those two wins, keeping the Canadiens tiny glimmer of hope alive for a few more days.

A tough loss followed on Sunday to the Columbus Blue Jackets, though it is difficult to blame Price for the loss when the game winning goal was scored into an empty net. Still, it was yet another punch in the gut to a Habs team that knows it has little room for error.

With Price sidelines with the flu and not traveling with the team to New Jersey for tonight’s contest with the Devils, the Habs called up Cayden Primeau. The 20 year old goaltender has been in the minors since his last appearance with the Habs on December 11th.

Since then, Lindgren has served as the team’s backup goaltender. He has only started three games in that time, while Primeau has been playing regularly with the Laval Rocket. Though Lindgren has been at the NHL level for the past six weeks, and Primeau is up on an emergency recall with Price unable to play, it should be Primeau that gets the start tonight.

Primeau’s numbers are not fantastic at the AHL level. He has a 2.70 goals against average and a .899 save percentage in 23 games. He performed much better in his two NHL starts. He made his NHL debut against the high scoring Colorado Avalanche and played extremely well after he settled into the game. The Habs lost 3-2, but Primeau shook off a couple of early goals to keep them in the game.

He was even better against the Ottawa Senators. He faced 37 shots and helped the Habs force overtime before Ben Chiarot fired home the game winner and gave Primeau his first NHL win. That is two solid starts where he gave his team a chance to win.

The same can’t quite be said for Lindgren. He has three starts with the Habs this season and allowed four goals in each of the past two. He was really good against the Carolina Hurricanes on New Year’s Eve, stopping 33 of 35 shots but the Habs lost anyway.

Lindgren allowed four on 30 shots against the Detroit Red Wings, and then allowed four more on 28 shots when he faced the Chicago Blackhawks. The Wings and Hawks aren’t exactly powerhouses this season, but they each fired four past Lindgren.

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Lindgren played 16 games with the Laval Rocket before being called up and had a 2.67 GAA with a .893 SV%. He has been serving as the Habs backup for the past several weeks, and should remain in that role even with Carey Price out with the flu and 20 year old Cayden Primeau called up.