It’s starting to become pretty clear to everyone: Jake Allen is not going through a very good streak.
After losing his last six starts, his record is 3-5-2, his save percentage is .898 and his goals against average is 3.74. In this last category, only Kaapo Kahkonen, Eric Comrie, Lukas Dostal and Jack Campbell do worse among the 64 goalkeepers who started at least five games.
In recent years, statisticians have begun to take an interest in the quality of opposition among skaters. On paper, for example, a defenseman might seem to be doing very well, but upon verification, we realize that it’s because he never faces the opposing top two lines. Let’s randomly call this phenomenon the Arber Xhekaj bounty.
When we do the same kind of exercise with the Canadiens’ goalkeepers, one observation jumps out: it’s not just the private sector who doesn’t receive a gift, as Michel Rivard sings. In the three-man rotation, Jake Allen inherits, by far, the most thankless task.
Eight of the ten teams he has faced so far would enter the playoffs if the season ends this Sunday, December 3. And among the two remaining, there is the Tampa Bay Lightning, whose death no one will announce until the corpse is cold.
Conversely, in nine starts, Samuel Montembeault has only faced three clubs currently in the playoff picture.
For this exercise, we compared the workload of the three Habs goalkeepers using the rate of ranking points, as of December 3, of all their opponents. The result is eloquent.
Jake Allen: 61.4%
Cayden Primeau: 55.9%
Samuel Montembeault: 49.8%
This reminds us that Cayden Primeau is not spared either: three of his five starts have opposed him to clubs currently among the nine leaders in the general classification of the circuit. His first game of the season also took place against the New Jersey Devils, before they subsequently lost all their means.
Certain nuances are necessary, of course. A weak opponent does not mean an easy match. One of the Canadian’s worst defensive performances this season, in terms of expected goals*, was against the Chicago Blackhawks, who could finish the campaign in last place in the NHL.
So we won’t say of Montembeault that he won, on October 14, an uneventful match. Conversely, it was last Thursday, against the Florida Panthers*, a very good club, that CH allowed the fewest expected goals in a match so far. Five shots nevertheless thwarted Cayden Primeau.
Never mind, if we look at the quality of the shots received, the logic of the classification is respected. At five against five, it is Allen who is the target of the most dangerous shots in relation to the minutes played. And he is also the one who receives the shots at shorter distances.
Number of dangerous shots received per 60 minutes at 5v5*
Jake Allen: 8.22
Cayden Primeau: 7.28
Samuel Montembeault: 6.02
It’s not going to change right away. Since Jake Allen just played against the Detroit Red Wings, it’s almost guaranteed that he won’t face the hapless Seattle Kraken on Monday.
The veteran was questioned Saturday evening about his tough assignments. “That’s the way the rotation works at the moment,” he replied simply. I like challenges. »
We can in fact suspect that Allen much prefers to measure himself against the powers of the circuit than to watch these matches from the end of the bench. And that he also prefers to talk about his performances than the transaction rumors about him.
Earlier on Saturday, general manager Kent Hughes, for his part, responded to a question about his involvement in decisions related to the menage a trois in front of the net. The administrator indicated that yes, he and Jeff Gorton had a say in the “high-level” management of this matter. They are, after all, the ones who will ultimately have to decide the fate of Primeau and Allen, now that Montembeault has obtained a contract extension. “But determining which guy plays which game is the coach’s decision,” Hughes said.
A joint decision between Martin St-Louis and his assistant Éric Raymond, goalkeeper specialist, let us specify. Do these simply employ the guard whose turn it is? Or do they work according to the interests of the organization? For example, by “testing” or “showing” one or the other of the masked men…
We don’t really know anything about it. But what is certain is that Jake Allen does not inherit a mandate that resembles that of a reservist.
*According to the Natural Stat Trick website