There wasn’t a lot to like about a 5-2 Montreal Canadiens loss to the worst team in the NHL on Thursday night. As momentarily exciting as it was to watch them erase a two-goal Anaheim Ducks lead in the third period, the wind was taken right out of the sails shortly after before two empty-net goals sealed the deal. An altogether sloppy effort from the home team on the second half of a back-to-back.
What must not be lost in that sloppy effort, however, was the sheer brilliance of Cole Caufield putting the team on his back in the third.
The Habs scored a measly one goal on five power play attempts against Anaheim, and it was unsurprisingly scored off the stick of Caufield. From his preferred spot, he unleashed a shot that kick started the erasure of a lead the Ducks had held since the first period.
At long last, the Canadiens power play has scored!— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) December 16, 2022
Cole Caufield makes it a 2-1 game. pic.twitter.com/Y7TQm1Xgx3
But we’ve learned this season that the power play isn’t even where Caufield does his best work. He’s one of the top five-on-five goal scorers in the league, and he added to his total later in the frame with a wraparound goal to complete the comeback, albeit only for a time.
Cole Caufield on the wraparound and it's suddenly a tie game at the Bell Centre! pic.twitter.com/F67gqA7HWj— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) December 16, 2022
The man advantage has been horrendous this season. When this team gets to the other side of their rebuild, having the worst power play in the league will be a non-option for them. As it stands, Caufield is their only weapon outside of Nick Suzuki that seems to be able to produce on that unit.
Add in the elite even-strength production, and you have a player in Caufield who is clearly invaluable to this team’s rebuild. The fan base, as a result, is understandably impatient to see him put pen to paper on a new deal. Forget the fact that the price tag could be increasing with every great performance, he would be an extremely tempting offer sheet target in the offseason if it gets that far.
That game against the Ducks proved that the team still has a ways to go. But it also proved that signing Caufield long-term is a necessity in getting where they need to go. Hopefully they get it done sooner than later.
Click the play button below to listen to your full Bottom Six Minutes, also available wherever you get your podcasts. We have Friday off this week, but will return rather quickly this Saturday when the Habs host the Tampa Bay Lightning.