Watch Montreal Canadiens Goaltender Cayden Primeau Make Case Crease Should Be His

Feb 13, 2024; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens goalie Cayden Primeau
Feb 13, 2024; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens goalie Cayden Primeau / David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports

The Montreal Canadiens have been running with a three goaltender system all season long. This is an unusual setup as most teams have two netminders all season, but the Habs were more or less forced to keep a trio.

Sam Montembeault re-signed with the team early this season meaning he was going nowhere, and Jake Allen was serving as the veteran mentor in a group that also included the younger, but also somewhat overlooked Cayden Primeau.

The Canadiens finally ended the three goalie experiment on trade deadline day when they traded Jake Allen to the New Jersey Devils. They received a third round pick that could become a second round pick if Allen plays 40 games next season and makes the playoffs as well.

Now that Allen is gone, it was kind of assumed the crease belongs to Montembeault and Primeau will be his backup. But a quick look at the numbers shows there is more of a battle for playing time going on over the final month of the Canadiens regular season.

Montembeault has played 31 games this season compared to Primeau's 14. Primeau has been the third stringer to date, often going weeks without playing games and then getting tossed in there to see if he is ready to go.

Montembeault has a 3.14 goals against average and a .904 save percentage on the season. Meanwhile, Primeau has posted a 3.04 GAA with a .901 SV%. He hasn't exactly faced easier competition either, so even though he has played less games he has been every bit as good as Montembeault this season.

That was on full display tonight as Primeau made his first start since the trade deadline. Montembeault played the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night and looked fine in a 3-2 loss, but didn't exactly dominate either. In his first action since this became a two horse race, Primeau made one of the nicest saves of the season early in the first period.

Primeau made a pad save off the rush but then sprawled across the ice and reached up to grab the puck out of midair as the rebound appeared destined for the back of the net. It was simply robbery to keep the Columbus Blue Jackets off the board.

It was part of a 22 save first period as the Canadiens took a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes of play. The Blue Jackets carried the play for much of the period, had several great scoring chances and were well ahead on the shot clock, but Primeau was excellent in keeping them scoreless early in the game.