Carey Price may be out of the NHL/NHLPA Assistance Program and back with the Montreal Canadiens, but he has yet to actually suit up for the team. Price’s readiness may have just become much more dire, as his understudy is now be out of commission. In Saturday night’s match-up with the Detroit Red Wings, starter Jake Allen was forced out of the game after an ugly collision in net in the first period. Detroit’s Dylan Larkin was shoved from behind by Habs defenseman Jeff Petry while on a net drive and had no time to stop before crashing into Allen (video). Initially, it actually appeared that Larkin received the worst of the blow, with Allen seeming alright. Yet, it was Allen who eventually left the game while Larkin returned (and scored a pair of critical goals, including the overtime game-winner.)
If there was any optimism that Allen was kept out only as a precaution and would be able to return to action right away, that was quickly erased after the game. With the Canadiens turning around and traveling to play the rival Bruins on Sunday, the team announced that Cayden Primeau had been recalled and would meet the team in Boston. After Samuel Montembeault played most of the game on Saturday, Primeau may even be the starter on Sunday, as Allen is clearly not available. Just how long Allen will be out remains the critical question.
While there has been no word yet on the severity of Allen’s injury, an extended absence would be a major blow to an already-struggling Montreal squad. Allen has started 14 of 16 games for the Canadiens and has been playing well. Montembeault is a different story, as there is a reason Allen has been a workhorse for the team. The 25-year-old waiver claim has an .885 save percentage and 3.69 GAA in four appearances this season and sadly this is not far from his career NHL numbers either. If Price and Allen are unavailable and Montembeault becomes the de facto starter, life will get even more difficult for the Habs. Primeau, 22, has some brief NHL experience of his own, but his 2020-21 numbers were disastrous and set the young goalie back in his development. Primeau is off to a good start with the AHL’s Laval Rocket this season, but has yet to show he is ready for the NHL. The team hopes Allen is not sidelined long-term or that Price can finally make his return, because the outlook of their young replacement tandem is bleak.