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Canadiens Analysis

Caufield Scores, Slafkovsky Benched In Win Vs. Detroit



montreal canadiens cole caufield

It’s a fragile Montreal Canadiens team that took the ice in Detroit, this Thursday, hoping to stop the bleeding of a four-game losing streak.

To shake things up, Martin St. Louis gave the nod to Cayden Primeau in the net and boldly decided to separate the Nick Suzuki – Cole Caufield duo.

The bench boss also elected to split the Guhle-Barron pairing, a bold choice considering they were producing at a reasonable rate and only allowed one goal against during their shifts together.

Did it blend?

Here are your post-game highlights and analysis.

Good Call, Boss

The switches paid dividends early, as Mike Matheson scored a beautiful goal on a great Alex Newhook pass, early in the contest. Matheson once again looked like an excellent NHL defenceman – something we could not have written in good conscience, this past week.


The new top two forward lines held their own, creating favourable chances on the ice.

Exp. Goal % for Canadiens against Red Wings


And in net, while he wasn’t overly challenged with high-volume or high-danger shots, Primeau was solid, tracking the puck well and backstopping the Montreal Canadiens to an overtime win, with 27 saves on 29 shots (.931 save percentage).

This win will certainly improve the Canadiens’ projected outcome for the season.

A Special (Teams) Game

Suzuki remained hot with another power-play goal, his fourth goal in five games, assisted by Sean Monahan, who extends his point streak to seven games.

Cole Caufield continued to build his reputation as an overtime specialist, scoring yet another extra-frame goal, this time with the man advantage.

Caufield also maintained his point-per-game average this season.

That’s two goals on five powerplay opportunities for this team, which keeps finding success in this aspect of the game.

On the other side of the spectrum, the Montreal Canadiens were also solid on the penalty kill, holding the Red Wings scoreless. They were also well-behaved (contrary to their early-season tendencies), with only four penalties taken.

Arber Xhekaj (who is silently stringing together strong games) also didn’t visit the sin bin for the third time only, this season. Seems like he got the message.

Not-So-Handy Andy

Dear Mr. St. Louis, we need to have a conversation about Josh Anderson. Most of his shot attempts don’t make it to the net and the few that make it are all in the goalie’s crest, and easy to save.

He has been useless on the power play, creating nothing and barely touching the puck, and is still goalless, with only one assist in 12 games.

Clearly, the man is snake-bitten, too, as he cannot buy a goal.

Pretty please, with sugar on top: no more powerplay time for Andy.


Playing with Caufield and Dvorak seemed to be doing wonders for Slafkovsky and his confidence in the first period. His play at 5v5 and on the powerplay was solid and once again seemed to be making the right decisions.

He still lacks quickness in his release, as he often takes too long to wire the puck when it finds him in prime real estate, but his play has been encouraging since he was removed from his previous line with Newhook and Anderson.

However, it appears St. Louis wasn’t fully satisfied with his performance, as he stapled him to the bench, as the game neared its end. All signs point to the Montreal Canadiens bench boss electing to favour a safer choice in Jake Evans, to close a tightly disputed contest.

The backlash might have been greater had the Habs lost that game, but the win may smoothen the fans’ vitriol.

Regardless, benching your first overall pick (who was having a decent game) doesn’t sound like a great idea – period.