Montembeault Playing Well for The Canadiens

Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images
Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images

It is not easy being a Montreal Canadiens goaltender these days.

For starters, Carey Price is physically unable to play due to a knee injury. Price, the all-time winningest goaltender in Canadiens’ franchise history, was everything and more for this team for many years, and they are now without him.

Secondly, Jake Allen is having a poor season between the pipes. As of this writing (Wednesday, January 18), he is 10-16-0-1 with a 3.52 goals-against average and a .892 save percentage.

Lastly, the team gives up a lot of goals as a whole. The Canadiens are 28th in the league, as they have given up 163 goals in 45 games (3.62 goals against per game).

With all of that said, however, the Canadiens do have one masked man who seems to have recently found a bit of magic. That is 26-year-old Sam Montembeault.

Montembeault is 9-7-0-2 with a 3.05 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage. The goals-against average is not pretty, but that is only because of the team’s poor play in front of him.

What does look good right now is his save percentage. Montembeault faces a lot of shots in every game he plays and, for the most part, does a good job of stopping a good majority of them.

Here is a look at his last five games in terms of the shots he has faced and stopped:

  • 37 saves on 40 shots in a loss to the Seattle Kraken on January 9
  • 39 saves on 42 shots in a win over the Nashville Predators on January 12
  • 36 saves on 38 shots in a loss to the New York Islanders on January 14
  • 38 saves on 39 shots in a win over the New York Rangers on January 15
  • 25 saves on 26 shots in a win over the Winnipeg Jets on January 17

In 18 games this season, he has faced an average of close to 32 shots per game. As a whole, the Canadiens give up an average of 33.8 shots per game, which is 28th in the league.

One reason why Montembeault has been successful this season is that he keeps his game simple. He is not flashy and instead relies on sound positioning to stop pucks.

Another reason he is playing well is that he probably realizes that he is being given a huge opportunity to show the Canadiens and the rest of the NHL that he can be a starting goaltender in this league. Since Allen went down with an upper-body injury, Montembeault has gone 3-2 and has stopped 174 of the 184 shots he has faced for a save percentage of .945.

This is also probably a dream come true for Montembeault. He grew up in Becancour, QC, and he is playing for a storied franchise.

Montembeault has certainly done his job this season for the Canadiens. It will be interesting to see what it leads to moving forward.

Patrick Hoffman

Patrick covers the NHL for Inside The Rink. He has previously covered the league for The Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave, WTP Sports, Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.

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