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A sweep, by any other name, would smell as sweet

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Cole Caufield’s play to set up the series-clincher was just one moment in a great night for the rookie.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Winnipeg Jets at Montreal Canadiens Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

The evil stepsisters (Toronto, Winnipeg) wanted us to stay home and clean the house. Instead, we grabbed our brooms and made a Cinderella story.

I’d like to throw a thought out there, and I welcome your feedback. If the Montreal Canadiens play like they did last night, more often than not, they’ll win.

Normally, looking at the Corsi is good because it gives a large sample size. Shots in a game tend to be similar (let’s say, as an example 31-29) and then the Corsi gives a better idea (say 64-52). Not last night. Montreal took 41 shots to Winnipeg’s 16. That tells you all you need to know.

After Game 3, I remarked that Connor Hellebuyck played like a league-average goalie. Well, last night Carey Price played just below league-average according to the expected goals model on Natural Stat Trick.

In all situations, Montreal had 1.8 expected goals against and Carey Price let in two. The thing that’s weird is that the two goals were not great shots. But what that stat shows us is that he battled enough on the higher-danger shots to make up for the two bad goals he let in.

I’m not ripping Price. By almost any metric he is one of the best goalies in the playoffs, and if the worst game he has is “average” the team is in a good place. But certainly those soft goals are what led the game to overtime. Fortunately the Habs have some magic words, that fans simply have to utter to win OT: “Cole Caulfield.”

Caufield, by every definition of the term, had a stellar night. When he was on the ice, at five-on-five, the Canadiens controlled 80.0% of the shot attempts and 76.7% of the expected goals. He had two scoring chances by himself. To top it all off, his most common combatant at five-on-five was Josh Morrissey, Winnipeg’s number-one defenceman.

None of these numbers matter without Caufield’s final two plays. In the penultimate play, there was a pass going to Nikolaj Ehlers in the neutral zone. That pass was just a little long, but Caufield read it perfectly and knocked it to the boards with his stick. That’s what forced the turnover and started the play going toward Winnipeg’s end.

Then, after a Nick Suzuki board battle, Mr. “shoots first” Caulfield passed to Mister “gets himself lost in the offensive zone” Toffoli for a highlight-reel game-winner. And, certainly, nothing short of a highlight-reel play was going to beat Hellebuyck last night.


Final thought, the team has improved to 8-0 when I mow my lawn. So, while others today were reaching for their brooms, I grabbed a mower!