Ramblings: Leafs-Habs; Svech and Teuvo; Gaudreau and Tkachuk; Larkin’s injury – May 20

Michael Clifford

2021-05-20

The last of the playoff series start tonight as Montreal heads to Toronto for the first game of their seven-game series. It has been decades since the two faced off in postseason competition and fans are excited. This should be fun to watch, even if Toronto is heavily-favoured.

I just can't believe Cole Caufield is sitting.

Caufield made his debut for the Habs on April 26th. From that point to the end of the season, Caufield led them in individual expected goals per 60 minutes and shots per 60 minutes. He was third in goals. This is on a team that was last – dead last – in goals at 5-on-5 per 60 minutes from April 1st through to the end of the year. A team that was last in the league in goals for six weeks is benching the guy who led them in shots and put up four goals in 10 games.

Teams don't need loads of scoring in the playoffs, but they do need some, and who knows how healthy Brendan Gallagher is. I will just say it: sitting Caufield is a mistake. A big mistake. That doesn't mean it's the difference between Montreal winning and losing. It is the difference between putting your best players on the ice, or not. The Habs are clearly not icing their best scoring lineup, and going up against a team that was first in goals over the same six-week stretch the Habs were last, feels like a very big mistake. Time will tell.

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The Carolina Hurricanes went back to Top Line Svech for their game on Wednesday night against Nashville.

I am going to do a bigger dig into Svech this offseason but there are some concerns starting to pile up for me. I guess there is one big concern and it's his shooting percentage. For his career, at 5-on-5, he's shot 8.85 percent. Comparatively, Jordan Staal has shot 8.3 percent. League-wide, among 232 forwards with at least 2000 minutes at 5-on-5 over the last three years,