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Julien on Kinkaid: 'He's a good, solid goaltender'

The Canadiens' brass will get their first look at veteran Keith Kinkaid on Saturday night

by Matt Cudzinowski @CanadiensMTL / canadiens.com

BROSSARD - Goaltender Keith Kinkaid will make his first start of the preseason on Saturday night.

The 30-year-old Farmingville, NY native is slated to play the full contest against the Ottawa Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre.

It goes without saying that head coach Claude Julien is eager to see Kinkaid at work - and evaluate the state of his game in the process.

Kinkaid is one of three goaltenders still in the running to back up Carey Price come early October along with Charlie Lindgren and Cayden Primeau. 

Fellow netminders Michael McNiven and Connor LaCouvee were reassigned to the AHL's Laval Rocket shortly after the morning skate, along with 12 other players.

"I want to see him perform. We still have decisions to make. Even though we signed Kinkaid this summer, you still can't erase names like Lindgren who has played well at this level," said Julien, regarding the Canadiens' goaltending situation. "We want to see Kinkaid play the way we think he can. He's a good, solid goaltender."

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: Devant le filet, ce soir / tonight's starter: pic.twitter.com/2WbnVGKy1R

If the six-year NHL veteran isn't sharp on every shot the Senators fire his way, though, Julien isn't going to hold that against him. 

After all, this is just his debut.

"It's his first game. We saw that Carey didn't have a big game the last time out. Training camp is all about getting in game shape and adjusting," mentioned Julien. "We certainly aren't going to make a decision about him one way or another after the first game tonight."

Video: Habs goalie Keith Kinkaid explains his mask

Eyes on Evans

Prospect Jake Evans will have another shot to impress the Canadiens' brass in the nation's capital.

After surviving the first round of major cuts, the 23-year-old Toronto native will be centering a line with Matthew Peca and Riley Barber.

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: The Canadiens have trimmed their training camp roster by 14 players.#GoHabsGo https://t.co/QVGrcvwVEY

"Every time you get to put on that jersey, it's a great opportunity," said Evans, who is pumped up for Saturday night's encounter. "That's the end goal, to make the team. I'm just excited for the chance to play one more game."

And he's adamant that his trio has all the tools to deliver.

"I know Riley's got a really good shot and he likes to shoot the puck. Peca is fast and gritty, and he'll get in those corners," praised Evans. "I think we'll have a good night, and I think we're all going to bring a little something different."

Julien believes the University of Notre Dame product has come a long way over the last 12 months, attributing time spent in Laval as an important factor in his development.

"That's the experience of a year at the pro level. You realize some things. You're intelligent enough to work on some things that you know you need to improve," explained Julien. "It's just like with Nick Suzuki last year. He wanted to improve his speed and his pace, and that's what he did. Evans did the same thing. He improved a lot as the season went on with Laval, and it shows."

Video: NJD@MTL: Evans forces turnover, pots terrific SHG

And Evans says his biggest strides came in several key areas.

"I think first, just confidence. Knowing the pro game more helps my game out a lot," revealed the young pivot, who registered 13 goals and 45 points in 67 games with Joel Bouchard's contingent in 2018-19. "I've also been working on my shot and my skating, and I think those have been helping me a lot." 

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