Scrivens to start Tuesday, trying for first win with Canadiens

Newest Canadiens goalie Ben Scrivens has a bit of a past with now teammate Brendan Gallagher, and wasn’t sure how the Habs pest would welcome him to the team.

BROSSARD, Que. — The Montreal Canadiens (22-15-3) are hoping goaltender Ben Scrivens can keep the team on a positive track after they notched a 5-1 win over the Boston Bruins in the Winter Classic.

Scrivens, who was traded to Montreal on Dec. 28, will try to record his first win in a Canadiens uniform when his team visits the Philadelphia Flyers Tuesday. If Scrivens is successful Tuesday, it’ll be Montreal’s third win in their last eight games—all of them part of the longest road trip the Canadiens have had since 1968.

The 29-year-old Albertan was unsuccessful in his first game with Montreal—a 3-1 loss to the Florida Panthers last Tuesday. But he made 27 saves—many of them on high quality scoring chances—causing Canadiens coach Michel Therrien to label the performance “excellent.”

Canadiens defenceman P.K. Subban agreed with his coach’s assessment and added that Scrivens has integrated well with his new teammates.

“I’ve learned that Ben’s hilarious,” said Subban. “He’s a veteran guy, he’s been around the league a little bit, and he definitely knows how to be a pro. He’s been great so far.”

About Scrivens’ previous experience:

He came to Montreal with 129 NHL games under his belt.

After making his debut with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2011 and spending two seasons with the organization, he played his best hockey with one of the NHL’s top defensive teams—the Los Angeles Kings.

After 19 games in a Kings uniform, posting a .931 save percentage in 2013-14, Scrivens was traded to the Edmonton Oilers.

He recorded just 24 wins in 78 appearances over a season and a half with the Oilers.

“I’m definitely not throwing anybody under the bus,” said Scrivens. “We all could’ve done things better in Edmonton, whether it was defencemen, forwards. It’s not just defencemen; you play a system, it’s a six-man system.

“You have your backside pressure from your forwards, you have your dmen [who] have to have good gaps, your goalie has to make saves, and it all kinda culminates in a goalie’s numbers sometimes.”

Scrivens’ numbers with the Oilers, who finished 28th in the NHL standings last season and 30th the season prior, were underwhelming. His .890 save percentage last season was the lowest he’s posted in the NHL.

When the Oilers picked up New York Rangers backup Cam Talbot in the off-season, the writing was on the wall for Scrivens. Despite showing up training camp in the best shape of his life, he was sent down the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors where he posted a 2-6-1 record in 10 appearances.

A trade to Montreal gave Scrivens hope that he could revive his career with a team he believes knows how to play a strong defensive game.

“I’m happy to be here right now,” he said. “I need to work as hard as I can in practice and hopefully win more games. It forces them to make a tough decision.”

The decision to keep Scrivens up with Montreal once reigning Hart and Vezina Trophy-winner Carey Price returns from a lower-body injury rests in Therrien’s and general manager Marc Bergevin’s hands. Price’s six-week timeline puts him back in a Canadiens uniform by Jan. 19 at the earliest.

In order to stay, Scrivens will have to out-duel current starter Mike Condon (11-9-3, .907 save percentage, 2.42 goals against average).

Scrivens and Condon currently make up one of the NHL’s most educated duos—the former having graduated from Cornell University, the latter from Princeton.

Scrivens has stood in front of the Flyers three times in his career, recording two wins and a .921 save percentage.

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