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Despite Canadiens losing, Caufield among young players gaining valuable experience



MONTREAL— There was a sequence in this laugher of a hockey game for the Montreal Canadiens that stood out as part of the tape worth saving.

You can burn the rest—the awful start offering Sidney Crosby his first goal of the season, the 3-0 lead surrendered before 20 minutes were played, making Teddy Blueger look like Evgeni Malkin (who has yet to dress for these Pittsburgh Penguins this season) and the ugly finish that had whatever scant fans remaining at the Bell Centre boo the home team off the ice—but keep that little piece from early in the second period, when Cole Caufield walked Chad Ruhwedel by sliding the puck through his own feet before attempting to beat Tristian Jarry with a backhand to the roof, and focus in on him regrouping near the offensive blue line, playing pitch and catch with Mattias Norlinder and stickhandling his way through a waddle of Penguins before attempting another dangerous shot that got blocked.

That was Caufield looked like the guy the Canadiens drafted 15th overall in 2019, like the guy who shattered Auston Matthews’s scoring record with the United States National Development Program, like the guy who won the Hobey Baker last season before joining the Canadiens and authoring the type of performance that had linemate Tyler Toffoli saying he had the “It Factor” and most people around the hockey world suggesting he’d win the Calder Trophy this season, and it was one of the only things that mattered on this night.

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It would’ve been just the same had the Canadiens won 6-0. They came into the game 4-12-2, making whatever result they’d achieve far less relevant than what happened for 20-year-old Caufield, or the 21-year-old Norlinder playing in his first NHL contest, or 21-year-old Alex Romanov, or 22-year-olds Ryan Poehling, Cayden Primeau and Nick Suzuki. The Canadiens’ season was irredeemable before they stunk it up against the Penguins, but every experience their young players live through at this level has value.

Not all of them played well on Thursday, but that offers its lessons too.

Caufield knows. He learned from like experiences to start this season. He went the first 11 games without a goal with the Canadiens, he wasn’t able to keep the puck on his stick let alone pull off the type of moves he made during Thursday’s second-period sequence, and he was sent to the AHL’s Laval Rocket to regain some of the swagger that slipped with each frustrating performance.

It took Caufield four games to score for Laval, but he spent them getting a lot of ice-time, a lot of opportunity and a more familiar feel with the puck than he had with the Canadiens. And after scoring a goal and an assist against the Utica Comets in a game last weekend and following that performance up with the tying goal—and a beauty in the shootout—in a comeback win from down 5-1 to the Toronto Marlies on Wednesday, he was recalled to Montreal.


Caufield packed his bag and brought his confidence back to the Bell Centre.

His experience to date helped him do it.

“Just kind of staying level-headed, getting back to myself, focusing on me and getting back to my game,” was what Caufield said he focused on with the Rocket, and all of that fed into how he played and how he processed the game thereafter.

He may not have scored, and he may have finished with an unflattering minus-3 next to his name—that stat was not representative of his performance—but he felt good about himself after it was over.

“I feel like I had my legs tonight, had some jump,” the Wisconsinite said.


It was a lost cause for the Canadiens. One that left Ducharme saying, “Tonight, it’s not the type of game we want to play. And when I say that, I mean defensively, offensively, coming back in our zone, attacking with the puck, without the puck.”

But he liked what he saw from Caufield.

So did Ben Chiarot.

“I was proud of Cole tonight,” the Canadiens defenceman said. “Not easy to go through kind of what he went through the first stretch there—people saying he’s going to win the Calder Trophy for Rookie of the Year and he gets sent down to the minors.

“He comes back with a lot of confidence, moving and playing well, so I was proud of him.”


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Primeau was on the receiving end of similar praise after playing spectacular in a 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers Tuesday, but he’ll still be able to take something from a tough Thursday that saw him pulled from the game after allowing five goals on 31 shots through two periods.

Same for Poehling, Romanov and Suzuki, who have all had ups and downs but are gaining good experience at the moment.

Norlinder was drafted 64th in 2019 and waited a long time to make his debut after suffering an injury early in his first training camp since coming over from Sweden.


“He showed good things,” said Ducharme. “It’s one game, but he showed good vision, good confidence with the puck. So, for him it was a good start.”

The Kramfors native played just under 18 minutes, was on the ice for 50 seconds of the team’s only power play, appeared dynamic and smooth—as billed—and came away feeling like this wasn’t too much for him.

That’s a good thing.

When Norlinder was asked about a play he made early on, where he nearly set a goal up for Jonathan Drouin, he responded, “That’s my game, so it was a pretty easy play, too, to just follow the play up the ice.”

Swagger intact.


Norlinder came off the ice and said the experience made him realize he can make even more plays than he allowed himself to with this being his first game.

That, and the development of Montreal’s young players, is what matters now.

“It’s always good to see young guys coming in,” said Ducharme. “At the same time, they have an opportunity to show what they can do, and it’s up to them to show where they’re at right now and if they can keep going and keep improving and follow the rest of the season where the games are going to become even harder and harder.

“So, it’s a good sign that we see some young guys like that (together) in one game.”

And it was good to see Caufield do his thing again, to see him offer something you’d want to watch the tape of.


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NFL Analyst Shuts Down Viral Trent Dilfer Complaint



(Photo by Kimberly White/Getty Images for Bai)


Yesterday, Trent Dilfer went viral across NFL media for his comments about Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady.

Brady and Rodgers are often touted as two of the top-ten quarterbacks in NFL history, yet, Dilfer had a contrarian opinion about those two.


However, one analyst quickly called out Dilfer, citing his career statistics as a major talking point.

Dilfer played in the league for 14 seasons, with his most notable achievement coming in 2000, when he led the Baltimore Ravens to a Super Bowl victory.

However, his career stats are significantly less impressive than that of Rodgers and Brady, which has made many members of the NFL media question his journalistic integrity.


In 14 years, Dilfer threw for 20,518 yards, 113 touchdowns, and 129 interceptions.

To put this into perspective, Rodgers has played in the league for 17 seasons, and he has thrown just 104 career interceptions, a full 25 less than Dilfer, who started in 110 fewer games than Rodgers has.

Brady, on the other hand, played in the NFL for 23 seasons and threw 212 career interceptions in 333 games.

That means, that, on average, Brady threw an interception every 1.5 games.

For context, Dilfer averaged one interception in each of his games and had a negative touchdown to interception ratio.


As one might imagine, many are throwing these statistics back in Dilfer’s face, citing that he played in the league when Brady and Rodgers did but was unable to achieve similar success.

Dilfer’s credibility is being called into question, but this certainly isn’t the first time.

Will he continue to be an NFL media personality moving forward?

The post NFL Analyst Shuts Down Viral Trent Dilfer Complaint appeared first on The Cold Wire.

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NFL Insider Reveals Stunning Fact About Chiefs And Eagles



(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)


Super Bowl 57 has the two best NFL teams facing each other for the biggest prize of them all.

While the path for the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles wasn’t easy, they made it to the Super Bowl.


Both teams come into the Super Bowl as the number one seed from their conference, something that fans haven’t seen since Super Bowl 52.

While that fact is stunning, NFL insider Field Yates had another stunning fact about the Chiefs and Eagles.

He reveals how neither team trailed at any point during their postseason games.

With both number one seeds dominating their opponents in the playoffs, fans will see one team finally break.

While the Eagles are terrorizing opposing offenses, the Chiefs offense has been on fire this season.

However, the Eagles hope to exploit injuries to key players to maintain their status as a team who hasn’t trailed this postseason.

But doing this will require stopping Patrick Mahomes, the NFL’s top passer this season.


While both teams come into the Super Bowl without trailing during the playoffs, the Eagles feat has been more impressive.

Their playoff games saw them allowing only one touchdown in each game.

While the Chiefs won by only one score in their playoff games, the Eagles only allowed one score in their games.

This edge by them might be enough to help them strike first against their opponent.

They will also hope this allows them to get a lead, and keep it, in the biggest game of their NFL season.


The post NFL Insider Reveals Stunning Fact About Chiefs And Eagles appeared first on The Cold Wire.

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Sean Payton Talks About His Coaching Philosophy With Broncos



(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)


The Sean Payton era in Denver is already kicking off with the new head coach digging into his job.

While Payton has been away from coaching for one season, he’s already getting back into the groove.


During his interview, he let people know his coaching philosophy with the Denver Broncos and their roster.

For the veteran head coach, it’s all about evaluating players.

While the focus starts on quarterback Russell Wilson, he will also examine the other players on the Broncos roster.


His philosophy is playing to the strengths of each player, something that gets lost with some coaches.

While those coaches focus on the flaws they find with players, Payton shows his coaching experience by having the willingness to work on players’ strengths.

He understands how every player has a unique skill set and can excel in certain positions.

While other coaches might keep weaker players in the wrong position, Payton finds their strengths and applies those strengths to the correct position.

This coaching philosophy has allowed him to find outstanding success as an NFL head coach with the New Orleans Saints.


His 15 seasons of coaching the Saints saw him winning the NFC South seven times, while winning one Super Bowl.

He also has nine seasons of playoff appearances, showing why his philosophy can easily work in Denver.

With him and his plan in place, he can turn around a franchise that hasn’t been the same since Super Bowl 50.

The post Sean Payton Talks About His Coaching Philosophy With Broncos appeared first on The Cold Wire.

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