(Montreal) There was absolutely nothing exciting or spectacular on Friday night at the Bell Centre.
Nothing at all, to the point where we even heard boos after yet another missed pass from the Canadian on the power play. We won’t say much about this 2-1 defeat against the Toronto Maple Leafs, since there isn’t much to say about it anyway.
Nothing exciting or spectacular on the ice, we said, including in the home goalie’s semi-circle. Which sounds like great news for Cayden Primeau.
The young man is not a spectacular goalkeeper. He excels when he maintains his calm and composure. In his good evenings, his movements seem easy. It was this Cayden Primeau who was there on Friday evening. He was certainly lucky on two Leafs shots that hit the post, but he was unlucky on the visitors’ two goals, the first scored following a veiled shot, the second on a deflection.
The American, ultimately, blocked 24 of the Leafs’ 26 shots. Adding in the half-game he played against the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday, he has now made 41 saves on 44 shots in approximately 90 minutes of play during the preseason schedule. His save rate of .932 is more than appreciable, especially since he gave nothing last Sunday in the famous “red against white” intra-team match.
None of this is obviously proof of anything, especially considering the weakness of the teams the Leafs and Senators sent to Montreal this week. In Primeau’s case, however, every little thing counts.
Last Saturday, the goalkeeper appeared completely dejected in front of journalists, after a short intra-team match which was catastrophic for him. It made you wonder if his training camp hadn’t just ended there.
Friday, Martin St-Louis saw his goalkeeper struggle. Everyone, starting with Primeau himself and the CH head coach, is aware of the young man’s situation. He will have to go through waivers if he is cut. Even if the club’s management is seriously considering the option of keeping three goalies with the big club at the start of the season, as vice-president of hockey operations Jeff Gorton confirmed to La Presse, Primeau still needs to do proof that he deserves to play in the NHL. And above all, he is capable of it.
“He’s at a point in his career where he needs to push,” St-Louis agreed. Every player, at this point, is in the business of convincing the world. If they don’t talk about you, if you haven’t convinced them, you have to keep [pushing]. »
“He made good saves to keep us in the game,” the coach continued. We want to see what we saw tonight. »
What is certain is that Primeau has his support in the locker room.
Jake Allen paid tribute to him last week. Mitchell Stephens, who worked alongside him in Laval all last season, added another layer after Friday’s defeat.
“Every time he’s in goal, we have a chance to win,” said the 26-year-old veteran. And he gave us a chance to come back tonight. I don’t know his contractual situation, but I know that he is a professional, that he works hard, that he shows up to work every day and that he shows us that he belongs here. »
Circumspect, as usual, Primeau admitted in an interview that the uncertainty over his immediate future represented a situation that was anything but ideal. “It’s human nature to know what’s coming, to want to be fixed,” he said. But as I say again, when your name is called, you have to do your best. I don’t make the decisions, but I have to make them difficult. »
“That’s why we play hockey, for the competition,” he added. That’s why I love sport. »
Several times, in the press scrum, he indicated that he “feels good” since the start of training camp. Except for one day in which he was “not at [his] best,” he said, in all honesty.
Feeling good won’t get him a job. But that’s already a lot for a goalkeeper whose confidence doesn’t seem to be at its peak.
The Canadian knows what to expect from Samuel Montembeault and Jake Allen, who are having a good camp. Expect to see Cayden Primeau in net again for one of the last three preparatory games.
It’s not good news for an NHL team if its most visible forward has an American League contract. That’s what happened. The colossus played a strong match.
Degree of intensity: zero. Did he even want to be there? It’s not clear. However, he played on the first trio.
Only two skaters on the roster deployed by the Maple Leafs on Friday night will pocket more than $2 million this season. This includes the prolific David Kämpf.
The fans gathered at the Bell Center had the opportunity to see the B, even C, teams of the Leafs and the Habs in action. However, in the Montreal camp, six veterans formed the first two trios. Flanked by Joel Armia and Josh Anderson, Sean Monahan piloted the main unit, while Jake Evans was at the center of the second, between Tanner Pearson and Brendan Gallagher. The result was… ordinary. The best. Three of them – Evans, Armia and Pearson – were their first matches, it’s true, and the rust was evident. Apart from a pass to Anderson which led to the goal, Monahan will not add this meeting to his portfolio. And Gallagher was unfortunately the Gallagher of the last year. An attacker certainly involved, but ineffective. Martin St-Louis did not take offense at the performance of his men, except to note that there was “not much” happening on the ice.
Behind this dull top 6, the last two trios, without being transcendent, seemed much better. Jesse Ylönen has not yet revealed himself as a gifted player, but his work to the right of Joshua Roy and Owen Beck has contributed to several good presences in opposing territory. The fourth trio, that of Jan Mysak, Mitchell Stephens and John Parker-Jones, however, was the one which offered the best performance. The giant Parker-Jones, with three good scoring chances, was the one who stood out the most, in his first career exhibition game in the NHL. He spent last season with the Laval Rocket and the Trois-Rivières Lions in the ECHL. “He deserved [his place],” said Martin St-Louis, smiling. We saw a big progression between last year and this year. He’s not just a big guy. He is intelligent and moves quite well. And he has better hands than you think, a better throw than you think. I am very happy with his match. »
It was not, moreover, a great evening of demonstration for the defenders of the Habs. Of the group, Arber Xhekaj seemed significantly more comfortable than last Monday. Otherwise, the meeting was painful, even very painful, for the duo composed of Justin Barron and Nicolas Beaudin. Logan Mailloux seemed less clumsy than in his first outing, but his defensive game remains shaky. During a retreat at the end of the third period, he was completely confused in the neutral zone while trying to locate his roofer. At his first audition, Gustav Lindstrom didn’t make anyone dream either. Without targeting anyone, Martin St-Louis said of the entire group that “the execution really wasn’t there.” “As for team play, we really didn’t play a good game,” he agreed. Collective play did not help individuals. »