The great fascination of the guards (Chronicle of François Gagnon)

MONTREAL – The attention paid to the Canadiens’ goaltenders dates back to the first faceoff taken during the first game in team history.

Since then, it has never disappeared.

On the contrary! This attention, which resembles fascination, has paved the way for controversies as regular as the change of seasons. To controversies that over the years have raised media storms stronger than those associated with climate change.

Jacques Plante has not escaped this. No more than Rogatien Vachon or the great Ken Dryden. Saint Patrick Roy was expelled from Montreal covered in tar and feathers that he was able to clean off the Stanley Cup that he later won in Colorado with the former Nordiques.

In the good years of 110%, the great man Éric Lavallée, the one who knew how to stir passions to obtain the daily fights that made this program so popular for years, found a way to do at least three debates a week about José Teodoro. Because? Because the issue of the guards and the fact that “Theo” was so polarizing that the “show” was guaranteed to increase!

Whether on or off the ice or through social media that his wife skillfully managed, Carey Price was even more polarizing. We still hear the echoes of the Price or Halak debates…

“Only in Montreal,” as colleagues from other cities shouted when they stopped at the Bell Center while trying to understand this debate that is difficult to understand and even impossible to explain.

Montembeault: number one… of three!

And so we return to Samuel Montembeault and the damn menage a trois he shares with Jake Allen and Cayden Primeau.

It seems to me that we are light years away from the controversies associated with Patrick, Théo or Carey. However, it seems that this is the only problem that haunts the Canadian this year.

Although this ménage a trois is far from being an advantage for any of the goalkeepers, it is far from being the defect unanimously denounced. Even further from being a lack of respect towards Samuel Montembeault, whom the Canadian deprives of his title as number one goalkeeper.

Does Montembeault play less frequently because Martin St-Louis has to play with the other two from time to time? Clear! But not to the point of denouncing injustice.

Especially since Martin St-Louis was not content to stand out after Montembeault’s spectacular performance (46 saves, six of them in overtime and three in a row on penalties, to secure the 4-3 victory against the powerful New York Rangers ). that his goalkeeper “played like a number.” He now gives the treatment reserved for a number one.

After an average outing in Tampa Bay, Samuel Montembeault was sent back to the Habs cage in the next game in Dallas. Therefore, the technician offered him the treatment reserved for a number one: that of going to recover as quickly as possible instead of going to ruminate for three, five, ten days before seeing the net again.

In Dallas, Samuel Montembeault knew how to maximize the trust that St-Louis had shown in him.

Why not then offer Thursday’s game against the Sabers to Montembeault instead of sending Jake Allen in front of Habs fans as part of the return to the Bell Center after the long vacation trip?

Because Samuel Montembeault, as brilliant as he was on Saturday against the Rangers, as brilliant as he was in Dallas against the Stars, and as good as he has been overall since the start of the season, is the number one goalie… of a group. of three!

ContentId(3.1437344):Antechamber: Montembeault stood like a wall (NHL)

And without at all wanting to overshadow his performances in recent games, Samuel Montembeault is not, at least not yet, a number one goalkeeper like Andreï Vasilevskiy, Igor Shesterkin, Connor Helleybuyck, Juuse Saros, Jake Oettinger or Sergeï. been this year after the sensational series he experienced with the Panthers last spring.

I would add that, given the poor quality of the effort put forth by the Canadiens players against the Sabres, it is far from an affront that Martin St-Louis reserved for himself last Thursday. Maybe he even did him a big favor by sending Jake Allen in front of the Habs cage during a home opener, always difficult after returning from a long trip.

On Saturday, against the Rangers, Montembeault stood out, we will all agree. At least I hope so. As we should all agree that against him, his defensive and attacking teammates were much more effective in all facets of the game than they were against Jake Allen on Thursday.

On Saturday, the Canadian players helped their goalkeeper excel. They hurt him more than anything on Thursday by giving the Sabers free access to the paid zone.

Waiting for a transaction

The ménage a trois is not optimal. It is even unpleasant for everyone. Starting with the main people involved. But, in reality, the goalkeeper most affected is not Samuel Montembeault. I’m Cayden Primeau.

Instead of waiting too long for an upcoming start with the Canadian, Primeau should be in front of the Rockets cage three out of every four games to maximize his development. To properly prepare him to become Samuel Montembeault’s assistant when Jake Allen is traded. Or continue his development with another organization if he is the one who allows Kent Hughes to close the best possible transaction to end the ménage à trois.

The staff knows that at least one team will claim Primeau off waivers if the Canadian decides to return him to the American League.

That’s why he’s still in the big club.

Why then not sell Jake Allen, who should be passed over due to the $3.85 million salary he is receiving this year and will receive again next year?

Because that wouldn’t help maintain his value heading into a potential trade near the Friday, March 8 deadline.

The Canadian’s biggest problem in his quest to transfer a goalkeeper is that the teams that were urgently looking for reinforcements in front of the net yesterday are no longer there today.

In Edmonton, the Oilers win. In Carolina, the Hurricanes also win. The Devils still have holes in the net, but they are back in the playoffs. Well, honestly, they’re certainly more concerned about Jack Hughes’ health than acquiring a goaltender. In Toronto, Martin Jones is on his way to atone for all the mistakes made last summer by new Leafs general manager Brad Treliving.

At the moment, Canadian goalkeepers are not at the center of major negotiations. Even if the General Staff is far from asking for the moon in return. At least that’s what I understand.

And if a general manager decides to put words into action in the near future, the top target should be John Gibson of the Anaheim Ducks. At least in terms of talent. Because in economic terms, the average salary of the 30-year-old goalkeeper ($6.4 million until 2026-2027) represents a burden that many clubs cannot bear. Not forgetting that Gibson has a clause in his contract that allows him to identify 10 clubs to which he will agree to go immediately. This does not mean that it is impossible to negotiate other destinations, but it is not a fact.

Hence the importance for the Canadian of having Jake Allen and Cayden Primeau active in the big club as often as possible to be prepared to react to the slightest change in the situation in the League.

Especially since the Canadian, with Carey Price, Kirby Dach and now Christian Dvorak on the long-term injured list, could afford to maximize the chances of transferring one of his goalkeepers by accepting an ugly – and even very ugly – contract. in addition to the hope or draft pick that the staff has in its sights.

It is imperative to take this reality into account when analyzing the goalkeeping situation in Montreal.

Whether they’re number one, number two or even number three, all Canadiens goaltenders have the same mandate: give their team a chance to win.

Samuel Montembeault did wonderfully in his last two outings. Jake Allen and Cayden Primeau will have to imitate him as long as the ménage a trois is not dissolved.

The three goalkeepers, who this year have “stolen” all the games, will especially have to avoid giving games away. Because if they don’t offer Martin St-Louis enough reasons to send them to the cage, this is where the situation, already difficult for the trio to understand, will be even more difficult to defend.

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