MONTREAL — Cayden Primeau wasn’t good.
However nobody anticipated the 20-year-old to be good in his NHL debut — towards the third-highest scoring crew within the league, behind a Montreal Canadiens crew that had misplaced eight of its previous 9 and in entrance of 21,302 followers who packed the Bell Centre. This was going to be a herculean process and everybody knew it.
The child was examined early and sometimes. His nerves took a while to settle.
Colorado Avalanche defenceman Ryan Graves beat Nate Thompson to the puck after Primeau had turned apart two probabilities, then Graves pushed the puck into the online together with his crew’s ninth shot of the primary interval.
Somewhat over six minutes later, Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog — enjoying in his first sport since Oct. 26 — walked round Jeff Petry and, with a fast backhand-to-forehand deke, shoveled the puck between Primeau’s proper arm and his physique for the 2-Zero lead.
Canadiens coach Claude Julien mentioned each objectives had been ones Primeau want to have again within the Three-2 loss. However every thing the Vorhees, N.J. native did after permitting them — Matt Calvert additionally scored on a short-handed two-on-one that Primeau couldn’t be faulted on — confirmed what sort of promise Primeau has.
Within the grand scheme of issues, that’s a vital improvement. Earlier than Primeau got here up from the American Hockey League on Monday, Canadiens starter Carey Worth was on tempo to hit a profession excessive in appearances over the course of the 2019-20 season. That was speculated to be prevented by the signing of Keith Kinkaid, who inked a one-year, $1.75-million contract this previous summer time.
However Kinkaid allowed 4 objectives in every of his 5 begins by means of the primary third of the season. So the Canadiens waived him on Monday and made the decision to Primeau to see what he might provide in aid.
He didn’t win Thursday’s sport, however he gave the Canadiens an opportunity.
If it wasn’t for Pavel Francouz, the person reverse Primeau in Colorado’s web, they’d have taken it. The 29-year-old right-catching marvel made 39 saves to enhance his document to 6-2-Zero this season — and enhance his save proportion to a glowing .929 in his 12 NHL appearances since making his debut final season. Afterward, Avalanche goaltending coach Jussi Parkkila acknowledged it was most likely his protégé’s greatest efficiency of the season.
And right here’s what Worth mentioned about Primeau: “He performed nice. He battled to the top. Clearly after we acquired down Three-Zero, he made just a few large saves for us to maintain us in and he gave us an opportunity to win.”
With the Canadiens attempting to kill off a Ben Chiarot tripping penalty taken simply 37 seconds after Calvert made it Three-Zero Colorado midway by means of the second interval, Primeau stopped some extent shot from Calder Trophy favorite and Norris Trophy candidate Cale Makar (who has eight objectives and 28 factors in 28 video games after choosing up an help towards Montreal). Primeau then stopped Nathan MacKinnon from registering his 19th purpose and 45th level on a vicious one-timer, and adopted that save up by diving throughout his crease to power a Landeskog tip extensive.
Seconds later, Primeau turned apart a depraved wrist shot taken from 17 ft out by Valeri Nichushkin, after which he stopped a superb one from Mikko Rantanen.
Makar, MacKinnon, Landeskog and Rantanen. A number of the largest names in hockey. How does he put that in perspective?
“You simply gotta exit prefer it’s another sport,” Primeau mentioned. “And also you positively gotta step up your sport once you’re going through guys at this stage.”
Like when he dropped a rebound in entrance of his crease and recovered by making a throwback-to-Martin-Brodeur-scorpion-style save on Rantanen within the third interval.
That was most likely one of the best of Primeau’s 32 stops.
Kylie Primeau (sister) subsequent to Cayden’s long-time goalie coach Chris Kanaly and his son Kade and spouse Melissa. Keith and Lisa Primeau (mother and father). Everybody excited for Cayden’s NHL debut on the Bell Centre #Sportsnet pic.twitter.com/TAhfN7RWAg
— Eric Engels (@EricEngels) December 5, 2019
Brendan Gallagher and Nick Cousins scored to get the Canadiens inside hanging distance, however Francouz made 16 third-period stops — a number of of which had been highlight-reel worthy — to maintain them at bay.
Primeau would have appreciated to cowl the Calvert shot that gave Graves the rebound he potted to open the scoring, however Thompson mentioned after the sport that the purpose was his fault.
The child was requested if the second purpose, scored by Landeskog, was an ideal instance of the talent distinction between the NHL and the AHL, the place he performed his first 12 video games of the season. It was a query that supplied him an excuse, however he didn’t chew.
“No. They’ve acquired some expert guys within the American League who can do stuff like that,” Primeau mentioned. “The pace was one thing I wanted to regulate to, so perhaps he got here in a bit bit quicker, however no.”
It was a response that spoke to his maturity — and maybe his preparedness for the NHL.
The 199th choose within the 2017 draft believes in himself and, regardless of his nervous begin, he made an impression with how he completed. Primeau did that towards a wonderful Colorado crew — and with the Canadiens skating brief a participant after centre Jesperi Kotkaniemi was flipped on a heavy hit from 6-foot-6, 235-pound defenceman Nikita Zadorov that compelled him out of the sport with an upper-body damage simply 1:32 into the primary interval.
Don’t count on a listening to/suspension for Nikita Zadorov.
— Eric Engels (@EricEngels) December 6, 2019
“He’s calm,” Thompson mentioned of Primeau. “I feel he has a very brilliant future.”
Primeau’s current doesn’t look too shabby, both. And the expertise he acquired on Thursday can solely serve him effectively whereas he’s right here.
“It was enormous,” Primeau mentioned. “The fellows had been nice. It was good to get in and see the puck, see this stage, and it’s extra motivating, and simply having the ability to take the expertise. (And) now that (I) have that have, (I can) simply use it going ahead.”
That’s large for him, and it could possibly be large for the Canadiens — each within the brief time period and the long run.