The Colorado Avalanche are legitimate Stanley Cup contenders, coming into Saturday night as the best team in the Western Conference. With the visiting Montreal Canadiens coming in as the worst team in the entire National Hockey League, the stage was set for what could potentially be the ugliest beat down of the 2021-22 season.
It ended up being far closer than anyone expected, with the powerhouse Avalanche needing overtime to get the two points. Just a few games after being pulled by his coach during a 4-2 game, Cayden Primeau was the reason that his team found themselves in that period.
I was quite critical of Dominique Ducharme for that goaltender change. I stand by my opinion of that decision, but I have to admit I was wrong insofar as I believed it would affect the confidence of Primeau.
He didn’t lack confidence in the slightest on Saturday, making a number of quality saves that kept his team in the game. He looked panicked at times, but that panic is easily understandable while being peppered with shots from one of the best teams in the NHL.
The Avalanche had 23 shots on net in the first period alone. If Primeau didn’t play the way he did, this game could have been well out of hand in the first 20 minutes. It marks the third straight game where the Canadiens have earned at least a point, the previous two being punctuated by Samuel Montembeault’s exploits.
With the news that Montembeault may need surgery to repair a wrist injury — and the uncertainty surrounding the returns of Carey Price and Jake Allen — Primeau might be in line for a lot of work in the near future. This could be a golden opportunity for the Canadiens from an evaluation standpoint, and for their young goaltender to claim his place as heir apparent to Price.
The Habs need some form of a succession plan for Price, and letting Primeau play as much as possible for the remainder of this season should help find out if he is that plan. Saturday night showed what he can do, so take this opportunity to find out how consistently he can do it.
Click the play button below to listen to your full Bottom Six Minutes, which is also available anywhere that you typically prefer to get your podcasts. As always, we will return with another episode after Monday’s game against the Minnesota Wild.