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Canadiens Prospect Leads Laval Rocket To Next Round In AHL Playoffs

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The Laval Rocket are moving on in the AHL Playoffs thanks to some stellar performances from Montreal Canadiens prospect Cayden Primeau.

The AHL Playoffs are a perfect time for NHL prospects to stand up and take the next steps in their development, and Primeau could be doing just that with his MVP-like performance for the Laval Rocket down the stretch.

Primeau held down the fort for the Rocket throughout the series and came up big when it counted to help them punch their ticket to the next round of the AHL Playoffs. His inspiring play over this heated five-game series with the Syracuse Crunch is exactly the kind of hockey Montreal Canadiens fans expected of the young goaltender after signing with the Canadiens in 2019.

 

Primeau’s Road To Redemption

The 22-year-old has had a very up-and-down season, being yo-yoed up and down from the AHL and NHL due to the various injuries to Montreal Canadiens goalies throughout the year. Incapable of getting himself into a regular routine until after the NHL Trade Deadline, Primeau shared his net with veteran netminder Kevin Poulin to end the season. Due to that fact, Rocket head coach JF-Houle decided to start Game 1 of this series with Poulin as his starter and opted to leave Primeau on the bench.

Despite the adversity, he’s faced this season, Primeau didn’t let it get to him. He was inserted into the lineup in Game 2 after the Rocket dropped their first game of the series by the score of 5-3. The door was wide open for Primeau to make an impact and maximize the opportunity that was put in front of him, and he did not miss his mark.

Primeau came into Game 2 and put up 37 saves on 39 shots to help the Rocket even the series at 1-1 en route to a first-star nomination. Head coach Houle decided to go with his hot hand and Primeau started Game 3 at Place Bell, the franchise’s first-ever AHL playoff home game. He wasn’t as tested as Game 2, blocking 22 of 23 shots, but he made some miraculous saves and kept the Syracuse Crunch from ever gaining any kind of momentum in that game.

Even when the Syracuse Crunch roared back to tie the series at 2-2 after a 3-0 win over the Rocket in Game 4, Primeau was the best player on the ice for the Rocket. Despite allowing three goals on 37 shots, Primeau was the main reason the game wasn’t more of a blowout, as the Crunch were simply more engaged than the Rocket from start to finish. Despite the loss in Game 4, the Rocket coaching staff saw fit to start the Montreal Canadiens prospect in the final and decisive game of the series.

In Game 5 on Tuesday night, Primeau was once again making notable saves and keeping his club into it. Especially in the third period, with the Laval Rocket down a goal, he was able to stop late pushes by the Crunch in order to give his club the chance to tie the game and force overtime, which they eventually did. In the extra frame, Primeau was able to stand tall during a crucial penalty kill, and Gabriel Bourque then shortly potted home the series-winning goal to help the Rocket win their first AHL Playoff series in the history of the young franchise.

Primeau stopped 32 of 34 shots in the victory and was once again voted first star in the game, as his herculean performance in the final game, especially in the 3rd period and overtime, was the main reason the Rocket walked out with the victory.

 

Encouraging Development For Montreal Canadiens

Primeau’s MVP-like performance for the Laval Rocket is going to please many within the Montreal Canadiens management team. His 0.940 save percentage and 1.96 GAA during this series rank him in near the top of the AHL for goaltenders so far these playoffs. He was able to claim the opportunity that was given to him and gain his bearings quickly to help the Rocket bounce back after a notable Game 1 loss.

The value of having your a competitive AHL affiliate is on full display here, as it has allowed Primeau to truly test himself in an elimination setting. The benefits this could have on his development, as well as those of fellow Montreal Canadiens prospects Jesse Ylönen, Rafaël Harvey-Pinard and Mattias Norlinder, will be very valuable to the big club. Primeau’s show of character and confidence here can be used as a focal turning point in his career and see him go into the 2022-2023 season with more confidence and purpose than ever before. That’s got to be music to the ears of Montreal Canadiens management, as they look to figure out their goaltending hierarchy this summer and navigate the uncertainty of Carey Price‘s health.

 

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