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By The Numbers: Cole Caufield’s Excellent Season Debut

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Montreal Canadiens

MONTREAL– Fresh off a two-goal performance against the Toronto Maple Leafs, sniper Cole Caufield is quickly leaving last year’s early-season struggles behind.

To get a better idea of the astonishing juxtaposition in production, it took Caufield 31 games to score two goals in 2021-22.

It took him just 15 shifts to reach the same mark this season.

The key for Caufield against the Leafs was combining quality and quantity, as evidenced by his event chart from Wednesday night.

Cole Caufield event map

Caufield shot the puck nine times in all situations, with five shots hitting the net, including two high-danger chances.

It’s also worth noting that despite finishing on the negative side of most underlying metrics, Caufield, who lined up beside Nick Suzuki and Josh Anderson, played the majority of his even-strength shifts against Toronto’s top line: Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and Michael Bunting.

The assignment was by design, owing to Suzuki’s underrated defensive capabilities.

“I tried to get Suzuki matched up with Matthews as often as possible,” said St-Louis. “It’ll be difficult to dictate matchups on the road, but I definitely wanted to see Suzuki face Matthews.”

It’s a logical choice by the head coach, but it also signals a certain reality for the Montreal Canadiens’ dynamic duo: they’ll be facing their fair share of top lines, both at home and on the road.

Fortunately for St-Louis, Caufield’s recent goal-scoring spree, which extends to his four goals in five preseason games, seems to be relatively sustainable, as long as his shot volume remains sky-high.

For example, if Caufield somehow manages to maintain his shooting rate, he’ll end up taking well over 700 shots, 400 of which would end up on the net. Truth be told, that’s simply not a realistic expectation seeing as Matthews led the league last season with 318 shots on net.

But even if Caufield’s shot rate goes down significantly, say, to the tune of 25% fewer shots on net, he’d finish the season with almost 310 shots on net, which would probably place him among the top-5 volume shooters in the league.

That type of volume projects 40 goals on the season according to Caufield’s 13 percent average shooting percentage.

Of course, taking almost four shots on net per game is a big ask, as is finding open ice in high-danger areas on a nightly basis and it would be unfair to expect Cole Caufield to join the ranks of Connor McDavid and Co. just yet.

There’s also the matter of continuing to find high-quality scoring opportunities, a challenge that will surely increase in difficulty as opposing teams start to focus on shutting Caufield down.

However, at just 21 years old, Caufield is yet to enter his statistical prime, indicating a significant uptick in production is not out of the question, especially if he plays the majority of his games alongside Suzuki, who happens to be the best playmaker on the team.

(Statistics via NaturalStatTrick and NHL.com

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habbernack

Will he score 50 in 39 games? 50 goals used to be the standard , but now I think it’s 30 is like 50, 40 is like 60 and 50 is like 70.

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