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Bottom Six Minutes: The struggles of Cole Caufield

Credit: David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports

The Montreal Canadiens out-shot, out-attempted, and out-chanced the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night, yet still found a way to shoehorn the game into the loss column. It was a visibly frustrating game for the Habs, with excellent goaltending from Jacob Markstrom, and an egregious lack of puck luck forming the perfect storm for a loss that really should have been a win.

They had plenty of opportunities to change their fate, and none more than Cole Caufield, who has been struggling mightily to turn his chances into goals.

As evidenced above, it is not remotely for a lack of effort. Caufield had 11 attempts on goal against Calgary, eight of them being on net, and three high-danger scoring chances of a total eight counted scoring chances. He was buzzing, creating chances for himself even on the most innocuous plays, but could not beat Jacob Markstrom.

Most concerningly, and despite Caufield’s individual statistics, his line was absolutely caved in during five-on-five play. He has no choice but to generate opportunities for himself right now, because that line doesn’t work well enough to facilitate opportunities for him. As a trio, they had eight shot attempts at five-on-five, and Caufield alone posted eight individually. He simply can’t stay on a line with Juraj Slafkovsky and Christian Dvorak any longer.

Martin St-Louis appeared to notice this himself, as there was a shakeup of the top-six in the dying minutes of the game, but we’re yet to hear if those changes were anything more than grasping at straws for a win.

The separation of Caufield and Nick Suzuki worked for about a game and a half, and has since yielded little to write home about. The coaching staff now needs to seriously consider abandoning the experiment, though it puts them back to square one in figuring out who exactly can complete that trio on a consistent basis.

An unenviable position to be sure, but I’m told a certain St-Georges-de-Beauce native happens to be tearing up the AHL.

Click the play button below to listen to your full Bottom Six Minutes, also available wherever you get your podcasts. We’ll be back after Thursday night’s final game of the home stand, when the Vegas Golden Knights will visit the Bell Centre.