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What To Expect From Cole Caufield This Season

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Montreal Canadiens forward Cole Caufield

MONTREAL — Cole Caufield’s 2021-22 season resulted in a fairly clear dichotomy, it was a tale of two seasons.

His frustrating start is well documented, as is his immediate return to form once Martin St. Louis took over from Dominique Ducharme behind the bench.

And while St. Louis has received the bulk of the praise for Caufield’s resurgence, the individual numbers suggest the 21-year-old should have scored more often under Ducharme, particularly at 5v5.

For example, while Caufield’s goals per 60 climbed from 0.17 under Ducharme to 1.03 under St. Louis, his shots per 60 only rose from 8.54 to 8.86. His individual high-danger scoring chances per 60 also saw a modest increase, going from 2.25 to 2.75. It was his shooting percentage that saw the most dramatic uptick, going from 2 percent to 8.85 percent.

Simply put, there was a significant amount of bad luck at play in the first half of the season.

But there are some things that can’t be measured by numbers, and in Caufield’s case, the reappearance of his smile was evidence enough to say he started to enjoy hockey a little more once the coaching change took place.

In essence, he was reminded that he plays hockey to have fun, and by tapping into the very thing that made Cole Caufield fall in love with hockey in the first place, St. Louis allowed him to play a much more fluid, instinct-based game.

That led to Caufield doubling the number of rushes he attempted, as well as lowering the number of rebounds he created, which tells you he was taking better shots, rather than simply putting the puck on net and hoping good things would happen.

As his confidence grew, so too did Caufield’s ice time; rising from a paltry 11:42  per game under Ducharme at 5v5 up to a respectable 13:02 under St. Louis.

His underlying numbers also saw a slight increase, though not to the point that you’d expect Cole Caufield to dominate on-ice possession throughout the upcoming season.

Power Play

Caufield’s power play usage also rose, roughly 15% following the coaching change, but his production absolutely skyrocketed.

He was taking more shots under Ducharme, significantly more, but his production was a mediocre 2.4 points per 60, a statistic which sadly included 0 goals.

With St. Louis at the helm, Caufield’s shot attempts dropped, but his production jumped to 4.1 points per 60.

What happened? Well, Caufield started taking better shots, relying on quality rather than quantity. His high-danger shots almost doubled, which led to an immediate influx of goals.

Seeing as the power play will be one of the most important factors in Caufield’s production throughout his career, the change in style wasn’t just encouraging, it was necessary.

Brass Tacks

So, with all those numbers in mind, what can we expect from Caufield this season?

If he increases his shot output at 5v5 and maintains his powerplay production, Cole Caufield is coasting towards a very healthy sophomore season.

However, he will garner more attention than he has in the past, which means he will need consistent usage with linemates that can drive the offence, as well as maintain solid underlying numbers in the defensive zone.

Hittin the 35-goal mark isn’t out of the question, but a more realistic projection places him at the 30-goal range, with a slightly lower number of assists than goals.

As an added bonus, expect more smiles from No.22.

A lot more smiles.

(All Statistics are 5v5 unless otherwise noted, via NaturalStatTrick.com)

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Curtis Ault

Analytics are a hugely important tool. It is going to be a great benefit to this organisation going forward. Information is absolutely critical. The key is to marry the analysis to what your eyes tell you.

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