Canadiens Game Day: Cole Caufield will be in Habs’ lineup for Game 3


Coach Dominique Ducharme will have to juggle his lines with Eric Staal and Jake Evans both sidelined with injuries.

Article content

Cole Caufield will get his first taste of NHL playoff action when the Canadiens face the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series Monday night at the Bell Centre (7 p.m., CBC, SN, TVA Sports, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM).

The series is tied 1-1 after the first two games in Toronto. The Canadiens won Game 1 by a 2-1 score and the Leafs won 5-1 in Game 2. Caufield was a healthy scratch for the first two games after scoring four goals in 10 games during the regular season after the Canadiens called him up from the AHL’s Laval Rocket.

Caufield was at right wing on a line with Nick Suzuki at centre and Joel Armia on left wing for the Canadiens’ morning skate Monday at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard. Caufield was also on the second power-play unit.

“I found out this morning,” Caufield said after the morning skate about being in the lineup. “Obviously, it’s really special. I’ll tell my parents when I get out of here. But going to be excited and I just can’t wait to get going tonight.

Advertisement

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

“It’s a playoff game … we need to bring the energy and I was put in here to help the team win and do the things that I can to increase our chances,” the 20-year-old added. “I’m obviously excited. It’s going to be a pretty special night.”

After the morning skate, head coach Dominique Ducharme announced that Eric Staal won’t be in the lineup for Game 3.

“He’s not at 100 per cent and I want guys who are at 100 per cent,” Ducharme said.

Ducharme added that Jake Evans, who missed Game 2 with an undisclosed injury, won’t be available for Game 3. With Staal and Evans both out of the lineup, Paul Byron will move from wing to centre.

Ducharme wouldn’t confirm what his forward lines will be for the game, but added that Tomas Tatar will stay in the lineup despite failing to get a single shot on goal during the first two games in Toronto. The coach also said that Caufield will definitely play with Suzuki.

Advertisement

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

Suzuki had no points and only one shot on goal during the first two games in Toronto and won only 39.5 per cent of his faceoffs.

“Obviously, we need to make some little adjustments (to the forward lines) with the last-minute (injury to Staal) like that, but yeah, Suzuki and Caufield are going to be together,” Ducharme said.

The Canadiens will have the last change for the first time in this series in Game 3 and Ducharme was asked if that was part of the reason he decided to insert Caufield into the lineup.

“Not necessarily,” the coach said. “First, I think we had a good start in the first game we played and we felt that was the lineup to have that night and then from there we were open to everything. We just feel that tonight was the night that he’s coming in.”

Advertisement

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

This Game Day notebook will be updated after Monday night’s game.

Advertisement

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

Tatar avoids being a healthy scratch

Judging by the lines at the morning skate (see below), Tatar would have been a healthy scratch if not for the injury to Staal.

“He’s good when he’s dynamic,” Ducharme said about Tatar. “He’s an offensive guy, so we want him to produce scoring chances and having him himself scoring chances. We feel, and I feel, that he can be bringing more on that side and we had that discussion this morning. I’m looking forward to see the way he’s going to play tonight.”

In 10 postseason games with the Canadiens last season, Tatar had two goals and no assists. In 37 career playoff games, he has 6-5-11 totals.

Ducharme said the regular line of Phillip Danault between Tatar and Brendan Gallagher will be broken up to start Game 3. Danault had four shots in the first two games, while Gallagher had three and the line has failed to register a point.

Advertisement

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

“In the (first) two games it didn’t work out,” Ducharme said about that line. “Does it mean that they will never get back together again? No. So that’s the way we start tonight and that’s the way we’re confident that we’re going to be having a good game with that lineup right now.

“Like everything else, you make plans but you need to be ready to adjust and make those adjustments and react,” the coach added. “You never have only one plan. You always think about what can be coming next and things like that.”

Advertisement

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

The lines

Here’s how the Canadiens’ forward lines, defence pairings and power-play units looked at Monday’s morning skate:

Byron – Danault – Anderson
Toffoli – Kotkaniemi – Gallagher
Armia – Suzuki – Caufield
Lehkonen – Staal – Perry

Chiarot – Weber
Edmundson – Petry
Kulak – Merrill

First power-play unit

Staal
Toffoli – Anderson – Suzuki
Weber

Second power-play unit

Perry
Kotkaniemi – Gallagher – Caufield
Petry

Advertisement

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

New partner for Merrill

Jon Merrill will remain in the Canadiens’ lineup for Game 3 but will have a new defence partner, while Alexander Romanov will be a healthy scratch for the third straight game.

After starting the first two games with Shea Weber as his partner, Merrill will drop to the third pairing with Brett Kulak. Weber will be reunited with Ben Chiarot on the top defence pair.

“I’m just trying to do my job out there,” said Merrill, who had no points in the first two games and was minus-1 while averaging 14:25 of ice time. “That’s what it comes down to playoff time is everybody who goes over the boards, whoever’s name is called, go out there and do your job to the best of your ability and we all know what that is.”

As far as what adjustment the Canadiens might make for Game 3 to provide some more offence after scoring only three goals in the first two games, Merrill said: “I don’t know so much adjustments, but I think the biggest difference is we haven’t had any of those long, sustained offensive-zone shifts that we like to play. So we’ve got to do a better job of continuing to get in on the forecheck, turn pucks over and turn those turnovers into extended time in the offensive zone and grind them down.”

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

Advertisement

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

Home-ice advantage

By splitting the first two games, the Canadiens now have home-ice advantage in what has become a best-of-five series.

The Canadiens had a 13-11-4 record at home during the regular season, while the Leafs had a 17-7-4 record on the road.

“We come home with one win, but it would have been nice to get two,” Canadiens defenceman Joel Edmundson said. “We’re not satisfied with just the one, but we’re comfortable playing at home. Last change is huge, especially in the playoffs. It would be nice to have the fans in the building — it would be crazy in there — but they will be there soon enough.”

The Quebec government’s easing of some COVID-19 restrictions will allow the Canadiens to have 2,500 fans at the Bell Centre for Game 6 next Saturday night if the series goes that far.

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

Advertisement

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

Penalty parade

The Maple Leafs had six power plays during Game 2 and scored on two of them, while the Canadiens failed to score on their only power play.

The Canadiens took four penalties in the second period: Gallagher for high-sticking, Artturi Lehkonen for slashing, Jesperi Kotkaniemi for cross-checking and a delay-of-game penalty following an unsuccessful video-review call when the Canadiens believed there was goalie interference on Rasmus Sandin’s power-play goal that made the score 3-1.

Edmundson said the Canadiens let the officiating bother them in the second period and it threw them off their game.

“Kind of just going at the refs instead of going at the Leafs,” Edmundson said. “I think that kind of killed us there. There’s going to be situations like that throughout the series and we just got to stay positive and focus on our job and when we get away from that I think the Leafs thrive off that. So we just got to stay composed and good things will happen.

Advertisement

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

“They’re calling a lot of stick penalties,” Edmundson added. “So just be smart with our stick. I think they’re letting the bodychecks go, so just be physical. Finish every check but be smart with your stick … I think that’s where you got to draw the line.”

The NHL fined Weber $5,000 for a cross-check on the Leafs’ Wayne Simmonds in Game 2.

“I haven’t seen the replay of what Webs did but, yeah, we’ve been warned,” Edmundson said. “Keep our sticks down and they’re calling the slashes, the hooks, but they’re allowing us to finish our checks. So it’s definitely in the back of our mind.”

The schedule

Here’s the rest of the schedule for the Canadiens-Leafs first-round series. All games will be televised on CBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports and will be available on radio on TSN 690 and 98.5 FM:

Game 3: Monday, May 24, 7 p.m., at Montreal
Game 4: Tuesday, May 25, 7:30 p.m., at Montreal
Game 5: Thursday, May 27, time TBD, at Toronto
Game 6: Saturday, May 29, time TBD, at Montreal, if necessary
Game 7: Monday, May 31, time TBD, at Toronto, if necessary

scowan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/StuCowan1

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.





Source link

Related posts

Leave a Comment