Stu Cowan: Philadelphia is special place for Canadiens' Cayden Primeau

Goalie will get start against Flyers Tuesday night in city he grew up in watching his dad play in NHL and playing on same team with brother.

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Philadelphia is known as the City of Brotherly Love.

That’s not exactly the case when it comes to Philadelphia’s rabid sports fans or the Broad Street Bullies, who won the only Stanley Cups in Flyers history in 1974 and 1975.

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Philadelphia is also the city Cayden Primeau grew up in while his father, Keith, was playing for the Flyers in the early 2000s. So it will be a special night for the 24-year-old Primeau and his family when he starts in goal for the Canadiens Wednesday in Philadelphia against the Flyers (7 p.m., SN, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM).

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“Every time you’re playing in a game in the NHL it’s special,” Primeau said after the Canadiens practised Tuesday at the CN Sports Complex in Brossard before flying to Philadelphia. “But to go back to where the dream started for me, it’s got its own significance.  … That’s a team that I grew up following. Just being able to play in front of friends and family it’s special, for sure.”

This will be Primeau’s second start in Philadelphia, and head coach Martin St. Louis said that’s just a coincidence as he continues to juggle three goalies, including Samuel Montembeault and Jake Allen. Last season, Primeau allowed two goals on 26 shots as the Canadiens lost 3-2 to the Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center on March 28.

During an interview on RDS’s l’Antichambre Monday night, Canadiens GM Kent Hughes said the three-goalie rotation could last the entire season, but ideally would be resolved by the March 8 trade deadline. The 33-year-old Allen, who has a 4-8-2 record with a 3.52 goals-against average and a .900 save percentage, is the goalie most likely to get traded, but his value can’t be high at the moment.

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Primeau has a 4-4-0 record with a 3.30 GAA and a .898 save percentage, while Montembeault is 9-5-3 with a 2.93 GAA and a .906 save percentage. This will be Primeau’s first start since Dec. 28 when he allowed four goals on 30 shots in a 5-3 loss the the Hurricanes in Carolina, with the last goal an empty-netter. Primeau had won three of his previous four starts.

The Canadiens’ future in net certainly looks like it will be Montembeault as No. 1 with Primeau as his backup — at least until Jacob Fowler is considered NHL-ready. Fowler, selected in the third round (69th overall) of last year’s NHL Draft, has a 13-3-1 record with a 2.16 GAA and a .925 save percentage as a freshman this season at Boston College.

“Obviously, it’s not easy to stay sharp,” Primeau said about the three-goalie system. “When you’re playing, it’s easier. But I think we’ve done a good job, especially (goalie coach Éric Raymond) and the other two goalies with everybody staying sharp and staying on top of it — pushing each other where we can. I think we’ve done a good job of staying sharp.”

When asked about Hughes saying the three-goalie system could last all season, Primeau said: “I’m in the NHL, so I can’t complain. You want to be playing as much as possible, but just taking it day-by-day. Being ready for whenever my name’s called and if it’s not called just being the biggest supporter for whoever is in there. Just trying to push everyone to be better.”

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Primeau has fond memories of attending Flyers games as a young boy with his brother Chayse, who is two years older.

“I remember going down in the locker room, causing chaos with my brother in the wives’ lounge,” Primeau said. “The Flyers-Pittsburgh playoff games were crazy. It kind of reminds me of Habs vs. Toronto a little bit.”

Primeau and his brother were teammates for two seasons with the Philadelphia Revolution U18 Triple-A team and they also played together for one season in the USHL before Primeau went to Northeastern University. During their second season with the Revolution, Chayse led the team in scoring with 18-28-46 totals in 39 games, while his brother had a 16-5-0 record with a 1.86 GAA and a .951 save percentage. Chayse, a forward, later played at the University of Nebraska-Omaha and Notre Dame before a brief stint with the ECHL’s Florida Everblades.

“When you have a forward and a goalie in the family, lots of fights — but lots of fun,” Primeau said about growing up with his older brother. “Those were some of the best days of hockey. Being able to play with him and travel with him and also high school as well.”

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Some of those memories will likely come back to Primeau when he skates on the ice to start Tuesday’s game.

“Just go in and try to do what I’ve been trying to do all year — and that’s give the team the best opportunity to win,” he said. “Not trying to get caught up in the emotions of everything. Goals go in. If there’s goals, then there’s goals. If not, great. Just being ready for the next shot and not looking at the past or the future. Just living in the present.”

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