The Montreal Canadiens earned their first win of the 2023-24 season on Saturday night, narrowly defeating the Chicago Blackhawks by a score of 3-2. The game was much closer in score than it should have been, however, with the Habs in firm control for nearly the entire 60 minutes. The fans who took in the Bell Centre opener were treated to some very encouraging performances, some much more important than a tick in the win column.
Cole Caufield put together one such performance, and looks poised to do something no Hab has done in quite some time.
The narrative around Caufield going into this season has been all about whether he can hit that 40-goal plateau, becoming the first to do it in Montreal since Vincent Damphousse in 1993. With the way he’s playing right now, the question we may all want to be asking is if he can go even further, and cross the 50-goal mark before the year ends.
Much ado has been made about the Canadiens lacking elite talent, but this sure was something typically pulled off by elite players. Caufield isn’t over-relying on his shot to start this season, and while it remains a formidable weapon, he’s getting things done in a variety of ways. Given the level his game is at right now, it wouldn’t be surprising if he cruises right past that 40-goal plateau, and begins to silence some of the worry over the Habs not having that top-end skill on their roster.
He had six individual scoring chances at five-on-five last night, two of the high-danger variety, and could easily have potted two or three goals with a bit more puck luck. Add in the fact that he’s getting it done right now in the absence of a functional power play, and you can see how 50 goals certainly isn’t out of the question. If they can get the special teams producing at all moving forward, who knows how high his goal total might get.
The desire for more elite talent in Montreal might have fans overlooking that they already have one in Cole Caufield.
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