An Allen key coming in handy
Canadiens fans have to go back almost a decade to remember what it was like to have a legitimate backup. In the 2009/2010 season, Halak and Price were a young, up-and-coming, formidable duo.
Jake Allen not only brings a ton of experience as a number one NHL goalie, but his play has become more consistent in the last couple of years. His performance thus far this season, has been nothing short of outstanding. Staying square to the puck, offering up few rebounds, great in-game management (ie: knowing when to freeze the puck) are typically all signs that a goalie is on top of his game.
More importantly, as I discussed in a previous blog (The Elephant in the Room), Carey Price has looked, thus far at least, out of sorts. Not unlike the last couple of seasons where he struggled out of the gates. Unfortunately, the Canadiens have not exactly been blessed these past few seasons when it came to having capable backups. Montoya, Kinkaid, Niemi, Lindgren and company could not take much off of Carey's load when he was either looking tired or having his struggles (or lacking vitamins), and the Canadiens would end up losing valuable points in the standings. Given the condensed schedule this season and the high number of back-to-back games in this 2021 season, having a solid backup was essential to achieving success in this ultra-competitive division.
More importantly, outside of Anti Niemi, the Canadiens have not had the luxury of having a backup goalie with significant playoff experience in a long time. Jake Allen (career save percentage of .924 in close to 30 playoff games) certainly fits the bill here . Should the Price be Wrong come playoffs, Julien and the coaching staff could be quick to replace him by the longtime Blues netminder, particularly in a season with so much at stake for Les Canadiens (several key players without contracts beyond this season, and given all the pieces GM Marc Bergevin added this past Fall and the stated team objective to go deep in the playoffs).
So while spending close to 15M$ in salary on the goaltending position may seem like gross mismanagement in a flat cap world, its hard to fault the Canadiens for their decision to acquire the seasoned veteran this past offseason. For my money at least, Allen will undoubtedly be a key (pardon the cheap pun) to the team's success.