ROCKET SPORTS MEDIA — Hi there there, people! Again with one other version of my three stars of the week column!
Gamers will earn factors every time they seem as a star on this column and on the finish of the yr, I’ll award my three stars of the season.
The Canadiens clinched a playoff spot this week however misplaced their final 5 video games to shut the season. These are the gamers who stood out to me this week.
☆ THIRD STAR: Cole Caufield
I used to be debating giving this spot to Nick Suzuki however seeing as he was my first star the final two weeks and I’ve spoken at size about Suzuki’s play of late, I figured this was alternative to provide Caufield the third star of the week.
Within the Canadiens final recreation towards Edmonton, Caufield and Suzuki confirmed some very nice chemistry, accounting for all of the Canadiens manufacturing in that recreation, having two factors every. It was Caufield’s purpose that obtained the Canadiens the primary purpose of the sport and later within the recreation he picked up his first NHL help on Suzuki’s second purpose of the sport.
This can be a good signal for the Canadiens. To see the chemistry type between these two guys is a reasonably vital growth, given one is a playmaking heart and the opposite a pure sniper, the Canadiens needed to hope that they’d see that kind of chemistry, however maybe didn’t account for it exhibiting this shortly.
Now that the common season has ended, Caufield obtained into 10 video games, selecting up 4 objectives and one help in these contests. It stays to be seen if he’ll get into any playoff video games, however all issues thought of, the younger sniper carried out admirably within the first stint of his NHL profession.
☆ SECOND STAR: Jake Evans
Jake Evans got here up enormous for the Canadiens this week. He scored the primary purpose on Monday night time to get the Canadiens off and working in a recreation they’d a possibility to clinch a playoff spot and it was an absolute magnificence. His line, with Paul Byron and Artturi Lehkonen flanking Evans, was improbable.
When the Canadiens traded for Eric Staal, it was made clear at the moment that Evans can be the odd man out, regardless of his admirable efficiency for a lot of this season. Staal arrived and delivered an OT winner however has achieved little of significance since and has regarded each bit his 36 years of age.
Evans does quite a bit for this group, he’s a kind of guys that no matter is happening in a recreation he by no means modifications. He’s as regular as they arrive. He performs properly five-on-five and kills penalties for this group whereas bringing pace and physicality to the desk, whereas additionally having some offensive upside as we noticed on Monday.
The lesson right here must be that giving alternatives to younger gamers is a greater various to loading the roster with growing older items, planting seeds of doubt within the heads of these younger guys within the course of. The Canadiens traded for Staal and now they should determine what they’re attempting to do right here.
Regardless, the Canadiens are heading to the playoffs and the efficiency of Jake Evans on Monday has an entire lot to do with that.
☆ FIRST STAR: Artturi Lehkonen
The guide on Artturi Lehkonen is that he’s a hard-working participant on either side of the ice who doesn’t have the power to attain as a lot as folks would love. That’s what will get parroted throughout social media, on the broadcasts and in articles. What will get misplaced in that narrative, nonetheless, is Lehkonen has constantly been a clutch performer for the Habs.
Again in April of 2019, Lehkonen had a exceptional efficiency towards Tampa Bay to maintain the Canadiens playoff hopes alive. Final yr within the Toronto bubble, it was Lehkonen who scored the game-winning purpose to get the Canadiens previous the Pittsburgh Penguins and into the playoffs. He’s at all times there when the Canadiens want him most.
This week, the Canadiens wanted to clinch a playoff spot. That required them to get one level towards the Oilers on Monday night time. They obtained that time. Why? As a result of Lehkonen and his line mates willed the Canadiens to that time.
He arrange Evans for the primary purpose of the night time, then feathered a move by to Byron for the second. He had a purpose known as again on account of it being decided the play was offside, however that didn’t deter Lehkonen, he beat Mikko Koskinen with a well-placed shot to tie the sport and get the Canadiens the purpose they wanted. On high of that, his line did a tremendous job coping with Connor McDavid, Lehkonen performed an enormous function in that.
On a group that has been crammed with guys with Stanley Cup expertise, it was Artturi Lehkonen who stepped up within the greatest second of the Canadiens season and delivered precisely what the Habs wanted. Similar to 2019, similar to 2020. So, the following time somebody complains about Lehkonen’s lack of manufacturing, bear in mind how he performs within the greatest moments for this group.
Along with his historical past, one has to surprise if Lehkonen might need an enormous purpose or two in him for the playoffs.
Canadiens Connection Podcast
Each Saturday, I host the Canadiens Connection podcast with Rick Stephens to debate the newest points involving the Montreal Canadiens. Use the participant under to pay attention. Remember to share and subscribe!