Montreal Canadiens Cole Caufield and Juraj Slafkovsky Battle At World Hockey Championship

Monday marked the most intriguing World Hockey Championship round robin game for Habs fans, as Cole Caufield and Juraj Slafkovsky's teams went to battle.
Juraj Slafkovsky and Cole Caufield with Montreal Canadiens
Juraj Slafkovsky and Cole Caufield with Montreal Canadiens / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

Cole Caufield and Juraj Slafkovsky built incredible chemistry during the 2023-24 season. Slafkovsky fit perfectly alongside Caufield and Nick Suzuki, giving Habs fans hope that they had found their first line of the future. We released an article breaking down the future of Caufield as rumors swirl that Trevor Zegras could come to Montreal in a deal. We concluded that it may be wise to keep Slafkovsky on a line with Caufield instead of acquiring Zegras to play with the sniper. Regardless, for one day at the World Championships, the new partnership had to take a back seat as the United States took on Slovakia. 

The United States were the favorites coming into the game, as they have an NHL lineup top-to-bottom. The Slovaks are low on NHL talent but high on work ethic and national pride. Slovakia took the play to the United States from the opening faceoff, grabbing a 4-1 lead before the midway point. The Americans rallied in the third period, thanks to goals from Shane Pinto, Brady Tkachuk, and Luke Hughes. However, Slovakia completed the upset with an overtime winner from Milos Kelemen.

The pregame on TSN focused on the Montreal Canadiens matchup, but the results were underwhelming for both players. Slafkovsky can rest easy knowing his team won the matchup, but both players will need better contributions for their teams going forward. 

Cole Caufield, Juraj Slafkovsky's Individual Performances

Both players were expected to have big impacts on their team's results in this game, but after eight regulation-time goals, we didn't see Caufield or Slafkovsky on the scoresheet. Slafkovsky had three shots on net, while Caufield countered with two.

Their results will be especially disappointing for Slafkovsky. His team did everything they could to hold a lead against the United States and were eventually successful in overtime after the USA comeback, but Slafkovsky will be left wondering if he could have put this game away by chipping in one more goal.

The scoresheet doesn't tell the entire story, as they didn't get any points, but their lines were a major storyline in the game. Caufield's two linemates, Pinto and Tkachuk, had the two goals to make it 4-3, and his line was also on the ice for Hughes' equalizer. The Americans were upset in this game, but if their first line can continue contributing, they'll be in a great position to make a run. Another question for the USA is their goaltending situation.

Alex Nedeljkovic started this game, allowing four goals before getting the hook. Trey Augustine did well to get the game to overtime, but the United States is keeping their options open to bring over another goalie. Alex Lyon was the starter to begin the tournament but returned home after an injury in their last game. 

Oliver Kapanen Shines Again

Tyler Major-Mcnicol wrote a great article after Oliver Kapanen's performance on Sunday. The Finnish forward had a hat trick and Player of the Game honors in an 8-0 victory over Great Britain. We'd be remiss if we didn't mention that Kapanen tallied another two goals in Finland's 4-1 win over Norway today. 

The two-goal performance gives him five for the tournament, surpassing Connor Bedard for the lead. If Kapanen continues this run, we could see his name in North America sooner rather than later.