When Martin St. Louis took over behind the bench of the Montreal Canadiens, one of the first players to immediately look rejuvenated was Cole Caufield. He scored in St. Louis’s coaching debut and had a goal disallowed as well, before following that up with another goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Then in an overtime win over the St. Louis Blues, the Canadiens blue-chip prospect scored to force overtime, and then closed things with the winning goal to secure two points.
Fast forward to Sunday and Monday this week. Caufield scored on a cold-blooded shootout attempt on Long Island, and tallied three more points against the Leafs in a lopsided win on Monday night. After a brutal stretch of poor shooting luck and questionable deployment, Caufield appears to be regressing quickly to a more expected level of offence.
On a similar trajectory is Josh Anderson, who has always been a wild card when it comes to consistency at the NHL level. Against Toronto, he came out looking for blood and found it pretty quickly. While Anderson is known for flying in off the wing and scoring, his first goal could not have been any further from that template. He skated to the net awaiting a Jeff Petry shot, and as the puck came toward the crease, Anderson removes T.J. Brodie from the area and smacked home the loose puck.
Josh Anderson is left alone on the doorstep and he bangs home his 11th of the year. pic.twitter.com/C1Y5j52MoN— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) February 22, 2022
The Canadiens’ second goal featured something the team sorely lacked for a lot of Dominique Ducharme’s — and Claude Julien’s — tenure: Royal Road passing.
It was all started by Anderson pressuring Morgan Rielly along the boards as the puck came to the point. The added pressure forced Rielly to make a bad chip attempt, and it sprang Anderson ahead. With Rielly out of the play, it left Brodie to defend the Anderson and Caufield two-on-one. Even as the puck bobbled, Anderson was able to pass it across the slot to Caufield who had pulled Petr Mrazek far out of position by moving wide to the board, allowing the young sniper to score with ease.
Anderson added a second goal thanks again to pressure from Nick Suzuki on a Toronto puck-handler, creating havoc and allowing Caufield to tee up a shot for Anderson on an odd-man rush.
Both Caufield and Anderson had their best showings of the year, and against a top team in the league — on a back-to-back no less. Given the situation the Habs find themselves in, getting two of the big offensive weapons playing the way they’re capable of is a big success for Martin St. Louis. Call it concepts, call it a regression, but it’s making the Habs an extremely entertaining hockey team once again.