Canadiens: 24 Thoughts On Cayden Primeau's Coming Out Party vs Sabres

Dec 9, 2023; Buffalo, New York, USA;  Buffalo Sabres left wing Zach Benson (9) takes a shot on goal
Dec 9, 2023; Buffalo, New York, USA; Buffalo Sabres left wing Zach Benson (9) takes a shot on goal / Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
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The Montreal Canadiens remain near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings but have played well for stretches lately. They entered last night's game with a record of 11-12-3 and 25 points in 26 games.

Their opponent, the Buffalo Sabres, are a division rival who began the night one point back of the Canadiens in the standings, though the Sabres had much higher ambitions at the beginning of the year.

Here are 24 thoughts on the Habs 27th game of the season which brings them to the one-third mark of the season.

First Period Thoughts

Cayden Primeau gets the start against a bad team. I have questioned why Primeau has faced more Stanley Cup contenders this season than Sam Montembeault, even though he plays a third of the games. He needs to look sharp tonight or he could fall further behind the other two goalies in the three goalie system.

Justin Barron's skating is such a treat to watch. He just kind of glides along on his edges but accelerates at the same time. It is like he is water skiing out there and being pulled by a boat but you can't see the boat. (Insert joke about Brendan Gallagher's boat anchor contract here.)

The Sean Monahan, Jake Evans, Josh Anderson line seems like an odd fit to me. I don't know what the ideal lines are, but this one just isn't great for Monahan. Anderson hasn't beaten a goalie all season and Evans hasn't done it since opening night of the season. Yet, it is a really good defensive line and they created a great scoring chance on their first shift with exceptional passing but Monahan couldn't convert.

Cole Caufield had a couple of great chances early in the game, but can't find the back of the net. With just three goals in his past 19 games, you have to wonder at this point if something is bothering the young sniper. Perhaps his surgically repaired shoulder is still giving him some jitters.

Primeau made a couple of excellent saves early in this game. I really think him and Sam Montembeault are the pairing to go with for the rest of the season. I don't know what trade value Jake Allen has but it just makes no sense to have a young goalie like Primeau sitting out as often as he does. The more he plays the more consistent he could become.

It would really help Primeau if the Canadiens stopped giving the puck to the other team so regularly, but turnovers have been an issue often this season and that was definitely the case in the first half of the first period last night.

Couple of odd penalties in a row went against the Canadiens. Primeau got called for tripping as a Sabres player tried to wrap around the net. Kind of looked like Primeau just stretched out to cover the net and the Sabres player ran into him a bit, but that's tripping I guess. Then Kaiden Guhle falls and slides into a Sabres winger along the boards. The Sabres player stumbled a bit but maintained full possession of the puck, but it was enough to put the Canadiens down 5-on-3.

Joel Armia made a ridiculous deke while shorthanded to get around a Sabres defenseman and had a great chance to open the scoring but the shot went just over the net. He used his long reach to go from backhand to forehand and in the process just pushed aside the opponent and went in alone on the net. Seconds later, Armia made a defensive play in his own zone that broke up a Sabres scoring chance. Good to see him getting the job done at both ends while shorthanded.