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Primeau: 'I'm just trying to learn and take it all in'

It won't be long before goaltender Cayden Primeau makes his NHL debut

by Matt Cudzinowski @CanadiensMTL / canadiens.com

BROSSARD - Cayden Primeau had some fun at his father, Keith's, expense on Monday afternoon.

After learning that he was being recalled by the Canadiens, the 20-year-old goaltender called the former NHLer to share the good news.

But he didn't exactly pass the information along himself.

"I was playing a little joke on him. I just told him to follow social media," said Primeau with a laugh, following Tuesday morning's optional skate at the Bell Sports Complex. "When he found out, he was excited as well."

Video: Cayden Primeau on his call-up from Laval

And with good reason. His son's strong start with the AHL's Laval Rocket clearly didn't go unnoticed.

Through 12 games, Primeau strung together a 7-4-1 record, along with a 2.58 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage. He also registered one shutout.

It won't be long before the Northeastern University product puts his AHL experience to good use at the NHL level.

According to head coach Claude Julien, Primeau's debut will come in short order with a busy schedule on the horizon.

"Primeau has been doing very well since the start of the year. We're going to give him an opportunity to play some games here," said Julien. "There are a few back-to-backs ahead, so we'll likely see him in action soon."

So how is Primeau feeling knowing that his first taste of NHL action could come any day now?

"I'm just trying to learn and take it all in. It's exciting, but it's a learning experience as well," explained Primeau, who claimed the Mike Richter Award last season as the top goaltender in the NCAA ranks. "There were a lot of emotions, but the biggest one was just excited."

The Voorhees, NJ native is adamant that his time in Laval has made him a more complete netminder.

It certainly doesn't hurt his cause to have an insatiable desire to improve his game, either.

"I've definitely tried to get better every day, so I'm a better goalie than I was yesterday. You kind of take everything with experience," mentioned Primeau, who is being developed under the tutelage of goaltending and video coach, Marco Marciano, with the Rocket. "The biggest thing I tried to work on is playing the puck and skating as well."

Video: Cayden Primeau on adapting from NCAA to AHL

Adapting to the pro lifestyle, however, has been a bit of a challenge thus far.

Four of his last five outings weren't strong, but he believes it's all a part of the learning process.

"I try to stay even-keeled. I really pride myself on that. It was great when things were going well, but I'm still trying to learn. It's a tough League," said Primeau. "I'm not making any excuses, but I haven't travelled like that in a while, so I'm just trying to learn stuff like that, and how to prepare yourself after getting in late. It's a physical challenge, but it's also mentally draining as well. I'm a better goalie today because of it."

While it remains to be seen when Primeau will start, he insists he'll be prepared for the opportunity.

"You've got to be ready at all times and you've got to prepare the same way," explained Primeau. "You've got to go into every game with the same mindset. It shouldn't matter, the circumstances or the situation."

It sounds like the former seventh-round selection is ready to rock, and his positivity is paying off.

"There aren't many young goalies, but I just try to get better every day and I don't look too far forward," concluded Primeau. "I'm a big believer in you do the right things, good things will come. I just try to do that."

Strong support

Having played with Primeau since the beginning of the season in Laval, forward Matthew Peca has come to know the young netminder rather well.

And the three-year NHL veteran believes Primeau wholeheartedly earned the chance to join the big club.

"He's a pro. He's really mature. He works extremely hard. He's ready to work every single day. He's serious, but he fits in well with the team. He's a good guy," praised Peca, who was also recalled from the Rocket on Monday and will make his season debut against the New York Islanders on Tuesday night at the Bell Centre. "Cayden always gave us a chance to win when the team wasn't playing that well. He deserves this opportunity."

For his part, Julien is eager to see Primeau perform at hockey's highest level.

In short, Primeau's age - and lack of NHL experience - isn't causing the veteran bench boss much concern right now.

"I think [Carter] Hart performed well in Philadelphia last season. I think Patrick Roy came on during the playoffs and did good work as a young goaltender. There are many good examples," said Julien. "It isn't complicated. It we see that Primeau is struggling, we'll just send him back to Laval. If he does good work, it'll help us."

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