ST. LOUIS | With a defensive brigade cut by two veterans and in which there are four inexperienced backs, it was expected that the Canadian's net would fill up at the same rate as that of a Gaspé shrimper. And yet!
• Read also: From Montreal to Ottawa to Calgary: the wild journey of the Poulin family to experience Samuel's debut with the Penguins
• Read also: Who else but Connor McDavid?
Before the games played on Thursday night, the Habs were ranked 10th among the tightest teams with an average of 2.88 goals against per game. For a team that allows nearly 33 shots per game, that's more than respectable.
It is also a sign that CH goalkeepers have been doing the job since the start of the season. Moreover, a statistic compiled by the firm Sportlogiq shows that, for the moment, Jake Allen and Samuel Montembeault have saved the furniture more often than not during the first month of activity.
Of the 40 goaltenders who have spent a minimum of 175 minutes in goal, they rank second and third in goals saved per 60 minutes.
By “goal saved”, we mean the number of times a shot, which would normally have been a goal, has been saved. Behind Carter Hart (1.58 goals saved), of the Philadelphia Flyers, we find Allen (1.47) and Montembeault (1.22). Quite a contrast with the previous campaign, when Allen was 21st (0.22) and Montembeault, 47th (-0.03) out of 64 goalkeepers.
“We know a little more where we are going”
“Both are off to a good start to the season. They have a lot of merit, because they work hard, ”said Canadiens goaltending coach Éric Raymond after a session at the Blues training complex.
“This is the second year that we have worked together. Today, when we meet and jump on the ice, we know where we are going. Last year, we brought new things. Now, we are consolidating the achievements, ”he continued.
The youngster stands out
Obviously, it will be difficult to maintain such a pace. Especially if the evenings of 45 shots like the one Montembeault experienced on Thursday in Buffalo add up.
At least the keeper, who turns 26 on Sunday, is fully recovered from his wrist injury. Injury despite which he played a good part of the last campaign. Its progress will certainly be less jeopardized.
“Last year was not easy. I have been through a lot of ups and downs,” he admitted.
In addition, Montembeault recognizes that the work he is doing with Raymond is starting to bear fruit.
"The way he wants me to play, it really brings out my strengths," he said.
“Before, I played a little too much in front of my semi-circle. In the NHL, cross passes happen so quickly that I was starting to run a little too much. Now I try to stay a little more hollow. I can beat the passes and arrive a little more in advance, ”explained the Bécancourois.
find the recipe
We will not leave in fear, because, as Raymond said, “the season is long and there are only eight games played”. Still, it's nice to see the likeable youngster enjoying some success and seeing an improvement in his game.
Moreover, Allen, who is six years his senior, maintains that his sidekick has not yet reached his full potential.
“There are things that I only started to understand when I was 29. That's when my game hit another level. It's different for every goalie. Some have an innate talent, like Carey [Price]. For others, you have to find the right recipe. And the time to find it differs from one to another. »
With a contract valid for another season, Montembeault will have a little more elbow room to pursue the search for this recipe.
1. Carter Hart Flyers 1,58
2. Jake Allen Canadian 1.47
3. Samuel Montembeault Canadian 1.22
4. Jake Oettinger Stars 0,77
5. Ilya Sorokin Islanders 0,76