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Bottom Six Minutes: Cole Caufield’s luck may be turning around

Apr 6, 2024; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens forward Cole Caufield (22) celebrates after scoring a goal against Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Ilya Samsonov (35) during the third period at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

The Montreal Canadiens played over 40 solid minutes of hockey against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night. Unfortunately, against a team as offensively gifted as Toronto, the minutes you don’t play well can hurt you quickly. With four goals in under eight minutes of play in the second period, the Leafs built a lead that proved unsurmountable for Montreal, ending with a 4-2 win for the road team. Already eliminated from playoff contention, the loss is largely unimportant for the Habs, and frankly serves more to help them with their eventual draft lottery odds.

More importantly, and though it is a little late in the season for this to be happening, Cole Caufield’s luck may finally be headed in the right direction.

This now makes it a three-game scoring streak for Caufield, over a stretch where he’s put 16 shots on goal. That has him shooting a shade over 18% on the streak, a far cry better than his 8% mark on the season. Not much has actually changed in his overall play during this streak, other than the fact that the pucks have finally started to go in for him.

The reality is that Caufield has been playing some excellent hockey this year, and any criticism over his lack of goals is simply the low-hanging fruit. The development of the playmaking side of his game has been a very welcome sight, and though his goal total leaves something to be desired, we know that he won’t be shooting 8% for the rest of his life. Eventually, that mark should regress towards his career average.

When we take a look at the comparison between Caufield this season versus last, we can see that a lot of his metrics have actually improved, aside from his shooting percentage. The left side, and the black bar on the graph represent his 2023-24 season.


He’s shooting the puck harder, and more often than he was, but those pucks are not going in at nearly the same rate. Caufield’s career-average shooting percentage, if you remove his current season, is about 14%. If you include this season, it’s about 12.5%. Had he shot anywhere between those two figures this year, he’d have been in line for 35-40 goals by this point of the season based on his 289 shots on goal. Simply put, anything closer to his career average would have seen him producing a lot more than he has.

And if he can get back to something within that average range next year, it will have an ancillary benefit for his linemates, on a trio that is already producing at a high level. Nick Suzuki could surely expect to reach that elusive point-per-game mark, and Juraj Slafkovsky might be in the 60-point range, given that they both see their share of touches prior to Caufield pulling the trigger. Not to mention, an extra 10 or more goals would undoubtedly get the Habs closer to playoff territory.

If this is indeed a reversal of his luck, and he can carry that into next season, both he, and the team in general, could be in a very different place at this time next year.

Click the play button below to listen to your full Bottom Six Minutes, also available wherever you typically get your podcasts. We’ll be back following the final game of the home stand this Tuesday, when the Philadelphia Flyers will visit the Bell Centre.

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