(Montreal) Martin St-Louis did not choose the three-goalkeeper rotation that has prevailed since the start of the season. We therefore understand his responses as a politician on this subject.
“We make calculated decisions. »
“We manage according to the schedule. »
“I have confidence in all our goalkeepers. »
If three masked men still share the work more or less equitably, it is because the team management has decided so. Because she fears losing one on waivers. Or because she did not accept the exchange offers submitted to her, if any were submitted to her. It is legitimate.
St. Louis, however, may have reached the end of its resources to defend the decision, which was not its own, after Samuel Montembeault stopped 45 pucks in a 4-3 shootout victory over the New York Rangers. York.
“Is Montembeault your number one? “, we asked after the meeting. “He plays like a number one,” the head coach replied.
Against the New Yorkers, the Quebecer was simply masterful. “Quite exceptional,” added David Savard. It was fun to see him go. »
Rangers’ 48 shots on target came from everywhere, in all situations. Apart from their three goals, two of which followed deflections, the visitors hit a wall, not only in regulation time, but also in overtime, literally until the last second.
In the shootout, Montembeault gave nothing. He reserved his best save for Mika Zibanejad, who believed he had beaten his rival by serving him a Peter Forsberg-style feint. However, the goalie reacted just in time to hit the puck with his stick as it slid towards the goal.
“He already made the same move against me and he scored,” recalled the first star of the match at the end of the evening.
Montembeault’s reputation is well established: in victory as in defeat, he does not lose his temper. Thus, in front of the army of journalists, he smiled with all his teeth, but in particular praised the electrifying atmosphere of the Bell Center – the crowd also cheered for a long time after the final siren – and by paying tribute to the constant effort from his teammates, who never gave up even if the Rangers erased a 0-3 deficit.
He was especially delighted to have won in a shootout, a situation which is not his “cup of tea”. Verified, it was only his second victory in these circumstances in seven attempts since his arrival in Montreal two years ago.
His teammates praised the progress he has made since the Habs claimed him on waivers on October 2, 2021.
“We see him becoming more and more comfortable in front of his net,” noted David Savard.
Brendan Gallagher remembered Montembeault’s very beginnings in the blue-white-red jersey. A 5-1 defeat in Buffalo, suffered after a horrible performance from the skaters in front of him.
“It hadn’t gone well,” Gallagher summed up. But he handled it well and never stopped believing in his abilities. He worked, worked, worked. He’s at the point in his career where he’s winning games for us, and that’s hard to do in this league. He works, he takes very little leave. Playing in Montreal is special for him, and we see the reactions he gets after games like this. We all feed off it. »
Montembeault mainly spoke about his technical progression. Its positioning. His ability to follow the puck. His way of facing veiled shots.
He did not respond, however, to questions about his status. He believes he showed last season that he could handle a heavy workload. And he was happy to play in the Jan. 2 game in Dallas, 48 hours after an individual performance he didn’t like in Tampa. Besides, “when I have the net, I try to be ready,” he said.
He’s not just trying. He is one of the goalkeepers who finishes matches with the most regularity with an efficiency rate above .900 – here he is at 12, in 17 starts.
His last two victories, against the Stars and the Rangers, he signed against elite clubs. While at the start of the season, it was Jake Allen who seemed designated to face the toughest opponents, it is now Montembeault who obtains these assignments. Let us know, the ménage à trois is not over, but number 35 has played three of CH’s last four matches.
If he “plays like a number one”, behaves like one, seems to be increasing his duties and has been offered a three-year contract, it may be because he is what he ultimately is: the number one goalie for the Montreal Canadiens.
Even if those seem like very difficult words for his trainer to pronounce.
After a miserable outing on Thursday, the squad had a perfect evening by silencing the best power play in the league. The Rangers certainly obtained 14 shots in these circumstances, but the CH unit finally effectively protected the front of its net.
Ordinary performance, even difficult, despite mainly facing the Rangers’ third line. He also received two punishments.
This is Jayden Struble’s ice time, a record for him, in his 21st NHL game. Only David Savard and Mike Matheson were ahead of him in this regard on Saturday. We even saw him for almost 2 minutes in overtime.