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Bottom Six Minutes: Cayden Primeau is still searching for consistency

Mar 24, 2024; Seattle, Washington, USA; Montreal Canadiens goaltender Cayden Primeau (30) makes a save against the Seattle Kraken during the third period at Climate Pledge Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

After building up a 4-0 lead in the first period on Sunday night, the Montreal Canadiens did exactly what they usually do with a lead. It was a Seattle Kraken shooting gallery for the better part of the remaining 40 minutes of that game, a classic showing of the Habs scoring in bunches, then relying mostly on their goaltender to bring home the win. It is a game script that we’ve seen a few too many times this season, and one that often demands near-perfection from the man between the pipes.

On Sunday night, that’s exactly what they got from Cayden Primeau.

In his first game after the Jake Allen trade, Primeau had arguably the best outing of his career, a 41-save shutout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. He followed that up with a lackluster game against the Calgary Flames, allowing five goals on 33 shots. Then, he turned around and played lights out against the Kraken, making 37 saves to ensure the Canadiens’ first-period scoring was more than enough. When Primeau is on, he looks like an undeniable starter-level talent, but he’s still trying to find a way to be that player more consistently.

But since becoming the lone backup to Samuel Montembeault, he’s been that player in two out of three games. Consistency, or lack thereof, has always seemed to be the primary impediment to Primeau realizing his potential. An increased share of game action was in order, and so far it seems like he’s on track to getting a little more comfortable, and perhaps a little more consistent in performance. More reps will go a long way to exploring how consistent he can become, and he should be in line for a lot more action next season, perhaps even something close to an even split.

On Sunday, even a seemingly comfortable 5-1 lead could have become quite precarious with how the team in front of him sat back in the second half of the game. This is not an ideal way to win games, particularly for a team currently jockeying for top-five positioning in the draft lottery, but there is some value in knowing that your goaltender is capable of closing out a game with a multi-goal lead.

If Primeau can find this kind of game in himself more consistently, it’s hard to see this team jockeying for a lottery position at this time next season.

Click the play button below to listen to your full Bottom Six Minutes, also available wherever you get your podcasts. We’ll be back after the Habs finish up their road trip on Tuesday night against the Colorado Avalanche.

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