Quarter Season: Matthews vs Caufield

By JD Lagrange – Well, we have reached the quarter mark of the NHL 2022-23 season. There are plenty of surprises and deceptions to go around. For one, raise your hand if you thought that 21 games into the season, the Montreal Canadiens would be two games above .500, ahead of the Florida Panthers and two points from a Wild Card spot? Or that the New Jersey Devils would be second in the Eastern Conference? How many had Dallas’ Jason Robertson being second to Connor McDavid in the NHL scoring race?

Just for fun, how many people thought that Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki would both have three more goals than… Auston Matthews? What? Yes, that’s right! Let’s take a deeper look into that one, just for fun. Keep in mind, we’re looking at the 21 games mark here, so we’re not counting Toronto’s 22nd game against Minnesota last night although for the record, Matthews was held pointless. The Habs haven’t played their 22nd game yet.

Teams stats

First, let’s set the table, shall we? We must look at the teams’ stats, as the success or depth of a team will inevitably affect a player’s individual’s statistics as well.

TORONTOMONTREAL
21GP21
11W11
5L9
5OT1
27PTS23
.643PTS %.548
61GF65
55GA73
26.5%PP %16.4%
107:20PP TIME102:00
78.6%PK %80.0%
30.3Shots/GP30.4
28.5SA/GP33.3
  • As we can see, there’s no doubt that the Leafs have a more effective power play than the Habs so far. It is important to note that they have also played almost five and a half minutes more with the man advantage than Martin St-Louis’ team.
  • I don’t know about you but I find surprising to see that the Canadiens score a bit more than the Maple Leafs. But boy do the Habs allow a lot of goals! Perhaps, it’s because they also allow a lot of shots, but with two backup goaltenders and such a young defense, it’s not alarming… yet.

Matthews vs Caufield

Now, to the nitty gritty. In the red corner, weighing in a 174 pounds, 5-foot 7-inches tall, the sophomore sensation, the challenger, Cole Caufield! His opponent, in the blue corner, weighing in a 208 pounds, 6-foot 3-inches tall, the pride and joy of Toronto-based media, the reigning Rocket Richard Trophy winner, Auston Matthews!

Without further ado, here are the two players’ statistics after 21 games.

MATTHEWSCAUFIELD
25AGE21
6’3″HEIGHT5’7″
208WEIGHT174
21GP21
9G12
12A9
21PTS21
1.00PTS/GP1.00
+1+/-0
3EVG10
10EV PTS17
6PPG2
11PP PTS4
20:34TOI/GP18:05
16:46EV TOI/GP15:05
3:46PP TOI/GP3:01
79:00PP TOI63:14
89SHOTS78
10.1%SH%15.4%
24GvA9
21TkA6
$11,640,250CAP HIT$880,833
  • Note that Caufield, in spite of being much smaller in stature, has a substantial advantage in his production at even strengths. Matthews loves when his team is on the power play. One would think that it would be reverse, right?
  • And look how much more time the Leafs’ center has spend on the power play than Caufield. Cut that time and make it equal, chances are you have even less production from Matthews, if you keep his goals by 60 minutes equal.
  • I won’t get in too much details about the cap hit since Caufield is still on his entry level contract. But you can be assured that he won’t make $11.6 million. Think more in the range of Nick Suzuki, between $7.5 to $8 million.
  • It appears as though Matthews is better at retrieving the puck, although one could argue that perhaps, you don’t have the puck when you have to take it away from your opponent. But look at the giveaways… that’s not in the same ball park.

Dynamic duos

I figured, why not bring in Mitch Marner and Nick Suzuki into the equation, as they are the dynamic duos of each team. For this exercise, I have added their production and salaries, and averaged their combined ice time.

MATTHEWS/MARNERCAUFIELD/SUZUKI
25AVG AGE22
21GP21
13G24
32A21
45PTS45
2.14PTS/GP2.14
+2+/-+3
7EVG17
23EV PTS34
6PPG6
21PP PTS10
21:06TOI/GP (AVG)19:23
16:13EV TOI/GP (AVG)15:37
3:41PP TOI/GP (AVG)3:05
154:19PP TOI129:13
132SHOTS124
9.8%SH%19.4%
51GvA23
43TkA16
$22,543,250CAP HIT$8,755,833
Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield
  • Once again, we notice the same tendency as we see in the teams’ stats and the Matthews/Caufield comparison. The difference is the amount of time on the power play and the production at even strength versus with the man advantage. Although both duos have a combined six goals with the man advantage, the Leafs’ duo has more points.
  • But also, look at the shots percentage. The Canadiens’ duo is just under 10% more efficient, selective and successful in finding the back of the net when shooting the puck.
  • The trend with giveaways and takeaways is the same as what we’ve noticed in the Caufield vs Matthews comparison. The Leafs’ duo is coughing up the puck more, therefore having to retrieve it more too. Caufield and Suzuki are better at protecting and keeping the puck, and are twice more effective at not giving it away.

All in all, I’ll let you draw your own conclusions as you can make stats say whatever you want, and people do. But force is to admit that so far this season, the Canadiens are very happy with what they have in Suzuki and Caufield and the fact that we can put those two guys against the Leafs’ duo speaks for their skills and progression.

More reading…

Habs’ Bringing The Heat

By JD Lagrange – When you’re hot, you’re hot! With the Boston Bruins, the Montreal Canadiens are the hottest team in the tough Atlantic Division, having won three games in a row. This past week, Martin St-Louis’ team has defeated division rivals Detroit, then Vancouver and Pittsburgh, coming out with all six points available to them. And they are still without Mike Matheson at the blue line.

As we still see some fans mumbling their dissatisfaction through their social media teeth about seeing the team doing so well, a vast majority of the fan base is surprised and excited to see some exciting hockey from their beloved ones. Seeing that the Canadiens are predominantly being carried by the young guys on the team is very encouraging as well.

With that said, let’s see who is hot at the moment and you will notice that there are a few on that list.

NICK SUZUKI

The Captain has 19 points in 15 games this season and he is tied for 10th in the NHL’s scoring race.
He has 7G-5A-12 Pts his last 7 games
For the season, he is on pace for 55G-49A-104Pts

COLE CAUFIELD

The 21 year-old Caufield has 16 points in 15 games so far. An impressive tidbit is that he has been kept off the scoresheet only 4 times all season.
He is on pace for 49G-38A-87Pts for the season.

KIRBY DACH

With 14 points in 15 games this season, Dach is on everyone’s mind right now. To think that some media members and fans were starting to turn on the 21 year-old already, prior to him being moved to the top line…
He has 3G-8A-11Pts, with a +7 rating in his last 7 games
For the season, he is on pace 22G-55A-77Pts.

MIKE HOFFMAN

With 4 goals and a +3 rating in his last 3 games, Hoffman has risen from the dead!
Prior to that, he had 1G-1A-2Pts in 10 games. Now, perhaps some teams will show some interest for a trade?

KAIDEN GUHLE

The 20 year-old Guhle leads all Habs’ defensemen with 7 points this season. Remember, he’s a rookie.
In addition to playing on the top pairing, he has 4 assists, with +3 rating in his last 4 games while playing against the opponents’ top opposition alongside his partner David Savard.

CHRISTIAN DVORAK

There were some growing concerns about Dvorak to start the season but with a production of 3G-3A-6Pts in his last 8 games, those concerns have pretty much dissipated.
Prior to that, the center was pointless in his first 7 games.

JONATHAN DROUIN

Okay, I’ll admit, a 2-games point streak is a bit of a stretch but there is a heartbeat there.
Prior to that, he had 2 points in 10 games. So while it’s modest and too soon to be qualified as “being hot”, it is something to build on for Drouin. He did only play just over 10 minutes last night against the Penguins though…

JAKE ALLEN

Jake has won his last two games. In the process, he stopped 61 of 67 shots for a .910 saves percentage. In those two games combined, which includes last nights’ game against Pittsburgh where he was less than stellar, he maintained a 2.86 goals against average.

SAMUEL MONTEMBEAULT

With a 3-0-1 record in his last 4 starts, Monty is enjoying the best start of his NHL career. During that stretch, he has maintained an impressive .937 saves percentage with a 2.21 goals against average.

This and that

Sean Monahan has a point in each of his last two games. Last night, he displayed great chemistry with Josh Anderson but had an anchor on his left in Evgenii Dadonov. Since the top line of Caufied, Suzuki and Dach is doing well, and with the line of Hoffman, Dvorak and Gallagher finding the back of the net, Monahan needs some capable wingers. Anderson is one but with the way they’ve been playing, neither Dadonov nor Drouin are it. With his suspension coming to an end, can we please try Juraj Slafkovsky on that line for a couple of games?

With Mike Matheson hinging closer to a return, it will be harder and harder to decide who will be cut from this defense. For a while, we thought that Arber Xhekaj was the most likely to be cut but he played over 18 minutes last night – mostly against the Evgeni Malkin line – and played a season-high 19:19 two games ago against the Vancouver Canucks.

The Canadiens host the red-hot and surprising New Jersey Devils on Tuesday, before heading to Columbus to play the Blue Jackets on Thursday. They will be back in the confines of the Bell Centre to play the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday.

More reading…