Montreal Canadiens: Cole Caufield’s Big Weekend Helps Put World Juniors Behind Him

BROSSARD, QC - JUNE 28: Montreal Canadiens right wing Cole Caufield (36) looks for a pass target during the Montreal Canadiens Development Camp on June 28, 2019, at Bell Sports Complex in Brossard, QC (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
BROSSARD, QC - JUNE 28: Montreal Canadiens right wing Cole Caufield (36) looks for a pass target during the Montreal Canadiens Development Camp on June 28, 2019, at Bell Sports Complex in Brossard, QC (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

The Montreal Canadiens top prospect Cole Caufield had a forgettable World Juniors. He has played well for Wisconsin since returning and just had a huge weekend for the Badgers.

The Montreal Canadiens fans had high hopes for Cole Caufield heading into the World Junior Hockey Championships in December. He was taken 15th overall in the 2019 NHL Draft and had proven to be an exceptional goal scorer at all levels. He had a terrific World Under-18 Hockey Championships for the Americans a year ago, and we thought he could repeat that performance at the World Juniors.

It wasn’t to be for Caufield. He had a huge game in the American’s final tune-up before the puck officially dropped on the tournament. In that game against Germany, who turned out to be a pesky, skilled team, Caufield scored four goals and added an assist. It looked like he was ready to do what he always did – score goals.

Caufield was placed on a third line with Jack Drury and John Beecher to begin the event. Those two forwards were two of the top penalty killers for USA, but they weren’t the most feared offensive performers. It didn’t look like the best spot for Caufield. More suitable linemates were available, especially with super-skilled centres Trevor Zegras and Alex Turcotte starting on the fourth line.

As it turned out, Caufield struggled to find the scoresheet early in the tournament. He had just one assist in the team’s first three games, and it remained that was as their fourth game headed to overtime. Caufield scored in that overtime against the Czech Republic to help give the Americans the second seed heading into the quarterfinals.

USA was shut out in those quarters by Finland and Caufield finished the tournament with one goal and one assist in five games. He mostly played on the third or fourth line and got some secondary power play time, so he wasn’t given the biggest opportunity to succeed.

That isn’t the situation in Wisconsin. Caufield is often used on the team’s top line, is always in the top six forward group and is a fixture on a terrific power play unit. He has excellent puck-handling skills, but is best known for an elite-level shot.

Since returning from the World Juniors, Caufield has put those skills on display once again for the Badgers. They were never more obvious than this past weekend when the Badgers faced Notre Dame in a pair of Big Ten conference games.

On Friday night, Wisconsin fell behind 2-0 in the first period, but Caufield answered before the first intermission to pull the Badgers within one. He forced a turnover and then beat a defender to the net. While the defender was closing in on him, Caufield fired a wrister over the shoulder of the goaltender.

In the second period, Caufield didn’t waste much time before he tied the game up. On a sweet feed from Turcotte, Caufield quickly cradled the puck and then fired it into the top corner once again.

Later in the second period, Caufield fired home his third goal of the night, this time with the man advantage. He is well known for scoring from his off wing on the power play, and he added to that resume once again. He got a cross ice pass and without ever looking at the net, he rifled the puck into the top corner on the short side.

His third goal gave the Badgers a 4-3 lead and they would go on to win 6-4. Caufield would add an assist on Saturday night but Wisconsin lost 5-2. It was the third straight weekend that they split their games and leaves them last in the seven team conference.

Wisconsin is going to have to go on quite the hot streak over their final ten games if they are going to get an invite to the Frozen Four tournament. Otherwise, they will have to pull off a few upsets in their conference playoffs to move on past early March.

Cole Caufield is doing his part, and now had 16 goals which puts him tied for sixth in the nation in goal scoring. He is just one goal back of four players tied in second place with 17. As a first year NCAA player, it is impressive to see Caufield so high up the goal scoring charts. Shane Pinto in the next highest scoring freshman and he is five goals back of Caufield with 11.

Next. What is left for Habs to play for?. dark

If you only got a chance to Caufield play at the World Juniors, don’t fret. He wasn’t at his best during those five games, but he has been great all year for Wisconsin. We don’t often see rookie college players scoring this many goals. Caufield will challenge to lead the nation in goals as a freshman. Don’t judge him based on his los scoring totals with America, take a look at his whole season and be happy the Habs have a future sniper on their hands.