What I Got Wrong About The Montreal Canadiens
In this series, we will take a look at some of the worst Montreal Canadiens predictions throughout the year.
It’s an important step in analysis for two reasons.
First, there’s absolutely no shame in admitting you’re wrong. But more importantly, it’s always good to take a look back at why certain predictions were made, as to establish why we came to that conclusion, and how we can avoid making mistakes in the future.
In the inaugural article we discussed how rookie defenceman Arber Xhekaj proved me, and many other people wrong.
Samuel Montembeault – Defying The Odds
When it comes to analyzing goaltenders, most of us fall in the Jon Snow category of knowing nothing.
Or, at the very least, most of us can admit that certain goaltenders have done a great job of renewing their careers at a time when a resurgence seemed unlikely.
And that was certainly the case for Samuel Montembeault during his second season with the Habs.
To be perfectly fair, very few people expected him to find his ryhthm with the Canadiens.
Even the press release from the Habs was rather underwhelming, as it essentially confirmed the team had claimed a player on waivers that had found little to no success in the AHL or the NHL.
But a fresh start is exactly what some players need to stoke the remaining ambers of potential in an attempt to rejuvenate their careers.
Thanks to Carey Price’s injury, Montembeault would end up playing 38 games for the Canadiens that season, and the results were, well, awful.
He won just eight games, producing a brutal 3.77 goals against average, as well as an underwhelming .891 save percentage.
That’s why many, including myself, raised an eyebrow when incoming general manager Kent Hughes signed Montembeault to a two-year contract extension. I was under the employ of the team at the time, which means that I was silent on the matter on social media, but there’s absolutely no doubt I described the signing as a “blatant and obvious tank move” when I was discussing the situation with friends.
He had much worse numbers than the other goaltender who shared the workload that season, Jake Allen, and he was also fresh off a surgical intervention to fix his injured wrist.
Second Act Sammy
There’s an adage in hockey: goalies are voodoo.
And while it may seem rather vague, it’s fairly accurate when we consider that many goaltenders have enjoyed unpredictable runs throughout the history of the NHL.
Jim Carey, for example.
He joined the league, quickly won a Vezina Trophy, and then faded into obscurity as quickly as the Harlem Shake did in the early 2010s.
But in this case, Montembeault’s resurgence wasn’t impossible to predict.
He’d go on to enjoy a strong season in 2022-23, finishing the year with a very respectable .901 save percentage while playing behind one of the least experienced bluelines in league history, not to mention a top-15 finish in terms of goals saved above average during 5v5 play.
It was a career-best season across the board for Montembeault, who finished his year by winning a hard-earned gold medal for Team Canada at the 2023 World Championship.
Montembeault was easily Canada's best player today.
Full marks to Slovakia for the effort. Hell of a game for them. pic.twitter.com/i5b234jbz9
— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) May 15, 2023
In hindsight, the aforementioned wrist surgery played a big part.
He was finally healthy, and it showed.
But beyond the surgery, I also failed to keep in mind that goaltenders take longer to develop than skaters, something we should all remember as the Canadiens continue to go through their rebuild without a blue-chip goaltending prospect.
Players like Montembeault, who have not been afforded a legitimate opportunity to shine, are very cheap to acquire. Whether it’s through waivers or late in the draft, there’s always goaltending talent available for NHL teams if they scratch beyond the surface.