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Bottom Six Minutes: Just the beginning for Cayden Primeau

Mar 12, 2024; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens goalie Cayden Primeau (30) first star of the game salutes the crowd after the win after the end of the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports

After building up a three-goal lead in the first five minutes and change on Tuesday night, the Montreal Canadiens did what they usually do in these situations. It was a Columbus Blue Jackets shooting gallery from there out, as the Habs surrendered 22 shots in the first period alone, and 41 total once the night was over. They should get credit for how well they played in the early goings to establish their lead, but owe a debt of gratitude for their goaltender that it wasn’t squandered.

And there’s something to be said for his confidence. “It’s just the beginning” said Cayden Primeau when asked how he sees the remainder of his season going.

Perhaps the three-goalie logjam finally ending in Montreal boosted that confidence, because Primeau was unbeatable. Even when a rebound, or a cross-ice pass put him at a disadvantage, he would find a way to get across and make a highlight-reel save. Most of the time, however, he didn’t need to, as his positioning and puck tracking enabled him to face most of the 41 shots he stopped with little exertion. The Bell Centre faithful were chanting his name in the dying seconds of the game, reminiscent of something they’d often be heard doing for a certain goaltender whose initials are also CP.

And his quote about it being “just the beginning” suggests he wants to experience that more often. Now that the path is clear for him to assume true backup duties, he’ll get the chance to play for that, and maybe even to take over from Samuel Montembeault at some point. He’ll need to establish some more consistency than he’s had in his young career to do that, but the important thing is that he’ll have the opportunity to prove himself. Whether Montembeault or Primeau can be the starter at the end of the rebuild is a crucial question to answer, so this new beginning is a great thing for the organization right now.

Primeau has somewhat of a long road ahead of him to supplant Montembeault right now, but more performances like Tuesday night’s could make for a more interesting debate going into next season. The refusal all year to expose Primeau to waivers indicates at least some confidence in him from management, and he seems intent on proving them right.

And if that game was truly just the beginning, he’ll be must see TV in his remaining games.

Click the play button below to listen to your full Bottom Six Minutes, also available wherever you get your podcasts. We’ll be back this Thursday when the hated Boston Bruins roll into the Bell Centre.

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