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Cole Caufield: a lack of finish, confidence and consistency

Right now, the Montreal Canadiens are having a rather frustrating season overall, and it’s not likely to get any better with time.

Let me explain.

Firstly, injuries to key players are once again piling up, as they did last season.

What’s most disturbing here is that it’s the players we wanted to see progress this season who have suffered long-term injuries. I’m talking, of course, about Kirby Dach and Alex Newhook.

Secondly, the Habs are heading straight for “No Man’s Land” in the standings.

Indeed, by maintaining a record of around .500, the Tricolore is very likely to end up in the middle of the pack, which means no playoffs, but also no top star player in the draft.

And finally, well, many of the players we were excited to see take another “step” in their development are stagnating or even regressing compared to last season.

One of these players is Cole Caufield.

The conclusion is clear after just over a quarter of the 2023-2024 season: something’s not right with number 22.

Indeed, we don’t have the same Caufield as last season.

In terms of points, yes, it’s similar.

If we just look at points rather than goals, Caufield is producing at the same rate as last season.

  • 0.79 points per game in 2023-2024
  • 0.78 points per game in 2022-2023

Except that the problem isn’t points in Caufield’s case, it’s goals.

He’s nowhere near his goal-scoring pace of last season.

With his seven goals in 24 games, Caufield is on a 24-goal pace over 82 games.

That’s not nearly enough for a natural scorer like Caufield, who scored 26 goals in 46 games last season.

However, the CH’s number 22 is still taking more shots than last season, he’s getting good scoring chances and Nick Suzuki is still managing to spot him.

So is Caufield just unlucky?

Perhaps a little, but he’s also clearly lacking in finishing at the moment, like it or not.

Caufield’s shots are finding the perfect angle and opening less often this season, and that’s somewhat worrying.

Firstly, because without as many Caufield goals, the CH is struggling, and secondly, because it’s hurting No. 22’s confidence.

Even if he gets points at the same rate as last season, Caufield is, after all, a goal scorer.

I’m sure if you asked Caufield if he was satisfied with his production so far this season, he’d say no. He’d clearly prefer to have 12 goals.

Clearly, he’d rather have 12 goals and seven assists than seven goals and 12 assists.

And so, not scoring more goals than that becomes frustrating for Caufield, who is increasingly lacking in confidence.

It shows in his play, as he often tries to cheat by working a little less hard in the corner, hoping to get a better chance to score or hoping to receive the puck on a silver platter.

It’s pretty obvious that he often avoids getting hit.

When entering territory, he often drops the puck instead of trying a play that could lead to him being checked.

He even turns his body to avoid being hit on the side of his operated shoulder.

Sound familiar? Jonathan Drouin, perhaps?

Yes, it’s all very worrying, and makes you wonder if his surgery is actually hurting him.

Maybe physically everything’s fine, but mentally, Caufield feels more vulnerable.

In short, let’s really hope that Caufield can get back to his cruising speed of last season, because that would be a great help to the CH, and it would be very positive to see him progress and dominate.

His lack of consistency is frightening, given that since the start of the season, he’s had nine games with two shots or less and 12 with four or more.

Caufield should find a way to balance things out so that he gets plenty of shots in every game.

Stay tuned.

In a flurry

– At least Emil Heineman had a goal and an assist in last night’s 4-3 loss.

– What a talent, Leo Carlsson.

– Good news for the Senators.

– Things aren’t looking good for Evgeny Kuznetsov.

– Wow. To be followed very closely.

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