Montreal Canadiens Prospect Cole Caufield Begins NCAA Playoffs Tonight

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA - JUNE 21: Cole Caufield Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA - JUNE 21: Cole Caufield Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images) /

The Montreal Canadiens will not be in the postseason this year but Cole Caufield will begin his NCAA playoff run tonight.

The Montreal Canadiens have stockpiled draft picks the past few years and have grown one of the finest prospect pools in the National Hockey League. Their best prospect at the moment is Cole Caufield.

The goal scoring phenom will be in the spotlight tonight as the Wisconsin Badgers begin their NCAA playoffs this evening. One of the key players that the Badgers will be leaning on in this series is Caufield.

The diminutive right winger has had tremendous success as a freshman with Wisconsin this season. He scored 19 goals and 36 points in 34 college games this year and was just as impressive in conference play.

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The 19 year old from Stevens Point, Wisconsin led the Big Ten Conference in points with 24 in 24 contests. With many of the top college players being 21 or 22 years old, it is rare you see someone in their first year at school lead the entire conference in scoring.

Caufield started the year on fire, scoring two goals in each of his team’s first three games. He continued to play well all year long, using his terrific offensive instincts, exceptional stick-handling skills and unparalleled shot to wreak havoc as one of the youngest players in college hockey.

Though Caufield got off to a great start, his team struggled for much of the season. There are only seven teams in the Big Ten Conference and Wisconsin played most of the year from the basement of the conference standings. That’s exactly where they finished and it should make them a huge underdog heading into their opening playoff game tonight.

All seven teams qualify for the playoffs, with the first overall seed, Penn State, getting a first round bye. That means Wisconsin will travel to play a three game series at Ohio State this weekend. All three games will be hosted by Ohio State tonight, tomorrow night and if necessary, a deciding game 3 will take place on Sunday night.

On paper, it looks like a huge mismatch. However, Wisconsin entered the season with high expectations and finally delivered on some of that promise in the past three weeks.

Three weeks ago, Wisconsin played their final two home games and beat Penn State 3-2 before falling to them 4-3 the next night. Two weeks ago they swept a pair of games at Arizona State who were ranked 10th in the country at the time. Last weekend, they beat Ohio State twice in Columbus and they were also ranked inside the top ten at the time.

This weekend, Wisconsin will look to carry that momentum through the opening round of the playoffs. They just beat Ohio State twice on the road in their final two games of the regular season. Can they do it again this weekend and pull off the upset?

If so, they move on to play Penn State in the conference semi-finals next weekend. If not, Caufield’s college season is over and he could possibly sign to play with the Laval Rocket by next weekend.