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“This is just the beginning” – Cayden Primeau
Credit: Capture d'écran / Screenshot
Last night, the Canadiens welcomed the Columbus Blue Jackets to the Bell Centre. The home side won 3-0 in a game between two clubs that are fighting more for the lottery than the playoffs.

After less than six minutes, it was already 3-0 for the Habs. Brendan Gallagher, Juraj Slafkovsky and Joshua Roy all found the back of the net quickly in the first, forcing a goaltender change.

If I had told you at that point that one of the two clubs would take 41 shots on goal and 98 shot attempts (including blocked and missed shots), you’d have thought I was talking about the Flannel, wouldn’t you?

That said, it was Pascal Vincent’s club who dominated the game.

Shots were 22-8 after one period, but Cayden Primeau was in resplendent form. In the first period, he even performed his best Carey Price imitation, making a great save with his mitt.

As in the good old days, the Canadiens’ attack did the bare minimum to win the game, and a goalie whose initials are “CP” saved the day for the club. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Clearly, Primeau was the best player on the ice. Martin St-Louis’ men were opportunistic early on, but played a disorganized game thereafter.

The score doesn’t reflect the pace of the game at all – not at all, in fact – and this is the kind of game where a coach has the right to be unhappy despite the win.

What’s fascinating is that Primeau has his club’s two shutouts so far this season… and both came at home recently. The first was against the Ducks on February 13.

The last time Primeau played at the Bell Centre before those games was on November 30 against the Panthers. So, in effect, he hasn’t given away a goal at the Bell Centre in three and a half months.

For those who remember, that was the game in which his mitt betrayed him five times. That wasn’t the case yesterday, however.

And as we can see, since the beginning of December, Primeau’s numbers have been good. He hasn’t necessarily played a lot, but we’re getting a growing sense of his confidence.

At the end of every month for the last three and a half months, his numbers are up to scratch.

(Credit: ESPN)

Overall, in 15 games this season, the Canadiens’ goaltender has a 6-6-2 record, a 2.83 GAA and a .910 save percentage in 15 games. Samuel Montembeault has a 3.14 average and a .904 save percentage, for those wondering.

Asked yesterday by Marc Denis after the game (because yes, Primeau was the first star) about his progress and performance between now and the end of the season, Primeau had this to say:

This is just the beginning. – Cayden Primeau

Yesterday was his very first game as the Canadiens’ official #2 goaltender. He has the confidence of his bosses, and the end of the threesome means he’ll get more playing time for the future.

After a roller-coaster ride since turning pro, he finally has the chance to get the stability he’s been looking for. And while he won’t always be as dominant as he was yesterday, it’s fair to say he’s passed the first test with flying colours.

But that’s not all we can take away from yesterday’s game, which was not a good one for the vast majority of Habs players. In fact, I should say for the majority of forwards and defensemen

What did I notice?

1. For a rebuilding club, the goal is to put on a good show and not get a point in the standings. Yesterday, the Habs picked up two points against a team with a great chance of drafting well, and played poorly for about 54 minutes.

At least the first six minutes were interesting… and Cayden Primeau was in fine form. Watching a goalie pull off a big one isn’t as entertaining as watching a forward on fire, but the fans in the stands yelling “Primeau” clearly appreciated his performance.

2. David Savard didn’t exactly dominate offensively, but that’s not his role either. That said, he did what he does best: play defensively and help his club without the puck. Yesterday, he blocked six pucks, and without him, Primeau might not have had his shutout.

And to top it all off, Savard’s play was just like the defenseman himself.

3. One day, Cole Caufield will find the back of the net. Even though we see him taking good shots, he’s just not able to do it these days. He hasn’t scored in his last 10 games.

At least yesterday, he picked up an assist (again).

4. Juraj Slafkovsky, who has been missing training recently, scored yesterday. After the game, he said he felt fine during the matches. Imagine when he’s fully healthy…

Let’s just hope he holds up for the rest of the campaign.

5. Joshua Roy, who scored the goal that chased Elvis Merzlinkins from the game, scored for the third time in four games. He scored his first career NHL goal at home.

Well done.

The more he plays, the more reason he has to stay up there. Even if his return to Laval seems inevitable to help the Rocket in the playoffs, he makes the decision difficult for the Habs, let’s say.

And that’s exactly what he needs to do.

6. Note that before the game, Paul Houde was honoured by the Habs. This was not done on Saturday, as the Habs decided to wait until the game was presented on RDS, with his brother Pierre on the program.

It was a beautiful moment.


Because the Canadiens lost to a rival in the race for last place, their chances of getting a good draft pick didn’t improve last night. Don’t forget, though, that winning is importantonce in a while.

Here’s what my friend Tankathon had to say on the subject this morning:

(Credit: Tankathon)

The Canadiens will now have to look ahead to the next step: tomorrow night’s game at home against Boston. To prepare, a training session is on the menu at 11:30 this morning.

I expect to see Samuel Montembeault in net… unless Martin St-Louis wants to play Primeau again. #JouerAuMérite

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