Montreal Canadiens: Jake Allen Surprise Start Exactly What Carey Price Needs

EDMONTON, AB - JANUARY 18: Jake Allen Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)
EDMONTON, AB - JANUARY 18: Jake Allen Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images) /

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price is used to carrying a heavy burden for the Habs and fans of the team are quite used to it as well.

That’s why, when it was announced that Jake Allen would start tonight, there were many Habs fans caught off guard.

The Canadiens last game was Thursday night and Price looked sharp in a 4-2 win. The Calgary Flames were held scoreless until the final two minutes when they sniped a pair of garbage time goals. The Habs next game isn’t until Monday night when they face the Vancouver Canucks. They take on the Flames tonight and all three of these games are at the Bell Centre in Montreal.

There is no question in anyone’s mind that in the past decade, Carey Price would be getting this start tonight. A Saturday night home game with a dat off on Friday and Sunday? That’s Price’s game ten times out of ten since Jaroslav Halak was traded for Lars Eller. No chance Alex Auld, Peter Budaj, Al Montoya, Antti Niemi, Keith Kinkaid or Charlie Lindgren are getting that game.

But tonight, it will be Jake Allen in goal. And that is because he isn’t Auld, Montoya, Niemi or Kinkaid.

Allen was brought in to Montreal in the offseason for a third round pick and quickly signed to a two-year contract extension. The reason the Habs targeted Allen was because he has experience playing the role of the number one and he can shoulder a heavy load himself.

This will allow Allen to play more games than Price’s backups have recently and give Price a little more time off than he has become accustomed to getting.

The idea is to have Price rested and ready to go in the postseason. We saw last year how great Price could be in a playoff series if he is at the top of his game. After a long layoff due to the Covid-19 virus, Price was excellent in a series win over the Pittsburgh Penguins and a hard fought series loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.

In ten postseason games, Price had a GAA of 1.78 and a SV% of .936, helping lead the Habs to an upset victory over the Penguins in the play-in series. Price’s GAA was the best among any goaltenders who played an entire series or more and his SV% was second behind Joonas Korpisalo. (Next in line behind Price was Jake Allen.

dark. Next. Habs PK Proving to be Offensive Threat

The hope is that Price can match that performance in the 2021 playoffs as well. The best way to do that is to keep him rested during the season. We might not be used to it as Habs fans, but Price is going to get the odd night off this season, even when the schedule suggests he could play.