Stu's Slapshots: Canadiens' Cole Caufield happy to see brother scoring

Brock Caufield has 2-4-6 totals in his first four games with the Newfoundland Growlers, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ ECHL farm team.

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Cole Caufield isn’t the only member of his family scoring goals these days.

Caufield scored his fourth goal this season — and his second game-winner in overtime — as the Canadiens beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3 Thursday night at the Bell Centre, giving him 4-5-9 totals in seven games to lead the team in scoring.

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His older brother, Brock, has two goals in four games with the ECHL’s Newfoundland Growlers, a farm team for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

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Brock was held off the scoresheet Thursday night as the Growlers lost 6-2 to the South Carolina Stingrays, but he had a team-leading five shots on goal and has 2-4-6 totals after four games. The Growlers have a 3-1-0 record.

Brock, a right-winger, joined the Growlers after playing five seasons at the University of Wisconsin, including two with Cole as his teammate.

“I was happy for him as a brother,” Cole said with a smile after Brock first joined the Leafs’ farm team. “Obviously, he could have picked any other team. We’ll leave it at that.

“They got a really good guy,” Cole added. “Hard-worker. Loves the game, does all the right things. I think he picked a tough location, but I’m pumped up for him.”

Brock, 24, is two years older than Cole. After Thursday’s game at the Bell Centre, I asked Cole how his big brother helped him become the player he is today.

“He just pushed me … threw me around a  bunch,” Cole said with a grin. “He was the guy I looked up to my whole life and I was lucky enough to play with him. Every day there was a competitive edge between us and I think in the long run that made us best friends and competitors, for sure.

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“He got a good start (with the Growlers),” Cole added. “He plays tonight, so I’ll have to check how he did. But he’s off to a good start. It’s on the other side of the world. I talk to him when I can, but I know he’s doing well.”

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Brock was thrilled after the Canadiens selected Cole in the first round (15th overall) of the 2019 NHL Draft.

We grew up together and did everything together, so it almost felt like I was getting drafted,” Brock said when I spoke with him shortly after the draft. “To see how hard he’s worked for that, it’s really special and he deserves it. We’d play sports in the back yard together — baseball, football, hockey. We did everything together growing up. I’ve always hoped for the best for him and he deserves everything.”

The Growlers will visit the Trois-Rivières Lions — the Canadiens’ ECHL farm team — for a three-game weekend series Nov. 3-5.

The Hughes brothers

Speaking of brothers, the Hughes boys could become one of the best brother combinations in NHL history.

The New Jersey Devils’ Jack Hughes, 22, is leading the NHL in scoring with 5-13-18 totals in seven games. His brother and teammate Luke, 20, has 1-3-4 totals in seven games as a rookie, while brother Quinn, 24, has 1-5-6 totals in six games with the Vancouver Canucks. Jack is a centre, while Luke and Quinn are both defencemen.

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The three American brothers were all first-round draft picks: Jack was the No. 1 overall pick in 2019, Luke was the No. 4 pick in 2021 and Quinn was the No. 7 pick in 2018.

Here’s a good trivia question you can ask your friends.

Which two brothers have the most combined points in NHL history?

Answer: Wayne and Brent Gretzky with 2,861. Wayne had 2,857 points and Brent had four in the 13 games he played with the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Sedin brothers (Henrik, 1,070 points, and Daniel, 1,041 points) rank second among brother duos with 2,111 points.

The six Sutter brothers — Brent, Brian, Ron, Duane, Rich and Darryl — hold the NHL record for most points by brothers with 2,936.

The record for most points by three brothers — something the Hughes boys might be able to set their sights on — is 2,169 set by the Stastny brothers — Peter (1,239), Anton (636) and Marian (294).

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The Hughes brothers are likely on their way to setting the record for most money earned by brothers in the NHL. Jack is in the second season of an eight-year, US$64-million contract, Luke is in the second season of a three-year, US$5.55-million contract and Quinn is in the third season of a six-year, US$47.1-million contract.

According to CapFriendly.com, the Sedin brothers earned an estimated US$143.27 million combined (US$71.635 million each) during their 17-year NHL careers. Wayne Gretzky earned an estimated US$45.985 million, according to CapFriendly.com.

Toffoli fitting in with Devils

Tyler Toffoli is off to a great start with the Devils, who acquired him from the Calgary Flames this summer in exchange for forward Yegor Sharangovich and a third-round pick at this year’s NHL Draft.

Playing on the Devils’ No. 1 line with Jack Hughes and Timo Meier, Toffoli has 6-3-9 totals in seven games.

Toffoli scored three goals (including an empty-netter) in the Devils 5-2 win over the Canadiens on Tuesday night at the Bell Centre.

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Toffoli enjoyed the two seasons he spent with the Canadiens — which included a trip to the Stanley Cup final in 2021 — and so did his wife, Cat, who made the trip to Montreal for Tuesday’s game. After the game, Cat posted a photo on Twitter of her with Toffoli, along with the Canadiens’ Jake Evans and his fiancée, Josh Anderson and Tanner Pearson and his wife. Pearson and Toffoli were linemates with the Los Angeles Kings when they won the Stanley Cup in 2014.

Toffoli met his wife when he was playing for the Kings and she was working in broadcast and entertainment for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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Stay out of the box

The Canadiens are off to a respectable 4-2-2 start this season, but it could be better if they were able to stay out of the penalty box.

At five-on-five, the Canadiens have outscored the opposition 13-5, but they have given up 10 power-play goals and two short-handed goals. The Canadiens gave up two power-play goals in their 4-3 overtime win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night.

“Our biggest problem is we’ve taken too many penalties,” St. Louis said after Thursday’s morning skate. “I think we’ve taken 37 minors or 38 minors (it’s now 43 after taking six against the Blue Jackets). I think we kill on average around nine minutes a game. It’s too much. Over and over and over, it’s too much. We got to improve in that department but, while you do that, you can’t let go of the five-on-five. To me, our five-on-five play has to be the foundation of our game as you try and improve. The other stuff, that’s real important to win games. But if you have no five-on-five, you’ll never be in a situation to win games. Your special teams won’t matter.”

The Canadiens went 2-for-5 on the power play against the Blue Jackets, improving their success rate for the season to 20.7 per cent, which ranked 14th in the NHL heading into Friday’s games. They ranked 25th in penalty-killing at 73 per cent.

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Finding a fit

Rafaël Harvey-Pinard was back on the No. 1 line with Nick Suzuki and Caufield on Thursday night, marking the fourth time in seven games he has started in that spot. Josh Anderson was there for the other three games.

Harvey-Pinard and Anderson have yet to score a goal this season, while Suzuki scored his first goal against the Blue Jackets.

St. Louis was asked after Thursday’s morning skate if he has thought about putting the veteran Pearson on the No. 1 line with Suzuki and Caufield. Pearson has been a pleasant surprise this season with 3-2-5 totals while playing mostly with fellow veterans Sean Monahan and Brendan Gallagher.

“We have plenty of options,” St. Louis said. “But I like the Pearson-Monahan-Gallagher line, too. It’s trying to find that balance. Could that be an option (with Pearson)? Yeah, of course, it could be.”

Pearson is looking like a great pickup by GM Kent Hughes, who acquired the 31-year-old from the Vancouver Canucks in September (along with a third-round pick at the 2025 draft) in exchange for goalie Casey DeSmith.

“He’s a pro,” St. Louis said about Pearson. “You can tell he’s been in the league for a long time and you can tell that he’s been on successful teams. He just knows how to play the game.

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“I always say the game has rules — and I’m not talking about offside and penalties and all that,” St. Louis added. “He plays inside the rules of the game a lot and usually when you do that the game is usually good back to you. You can see that. He’s been productive for us. He’s done it by playing the game the right way.”

Staying positive

I wrote a column this week on how St. Louis is a big believer in the power of positive thinking — something he learned from his late mother.

“She built my confidence,” said St. Louis, who was cut from his pee-wee double-A team in Laval as a kid and was never selected at the NHL Draft, but went on to have a 16-year Hall of Fame career in the NHL that included a Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning, a Hart Trophy as league MVP and two Art Ross Trophies as the league’s leading scorer.

I received an email from Len Madigan, who works as a positive intelligence coach, after he read the column.

“I lead groups through PI (Positive Intelligence) to help grow mental fitness as a means of improving one’s performance, well-being and relationships,” Madigan wrote. “I’m in contact with CEGEP sports teams to offer it to their teams as well, as mental fitness clearly benefits all of us. Next time you bump into Marty, maybe you can let him know about this. … Check out this two-minute video as it explains Positive Intelligence well.”

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NHL gambling situation ridiculous

While the NHL has gone all-in on gambling when it comes to ramming ads for online betting websites down fans’ throats during games, the league decided to suspend the Ottawa Senators’ Shane Pinto for 41 games for “activities relating to sports wagering.”

The league said it found no evidence Pinto made any wagers on NHL games and added it now considers the matter to be closed and won’t have any further comment “absence the emergence of further information.”

If Pinto didn’t wager on the NHL you have to wonder why the league that promotes gambling so heavily suspended him for half a season.

I had to laugh when I saw the helmet sponsor for the Senators this season is the Betway online gambling company.

Maybe Pinto placed his bets with a different company?

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Fantastic cartoon

Kudos to Bruce MacKinnon of the Halifax Chronicle-Herald for the fantastic cartoon he drew concerning the NHL reversing its ruling players wouldn’t be allowed to use Pride tape on their sticks this season as a sign of support for the LGBTQ community.

And even bigger kudos to Arizona Coyotes defenceman Travis Dermott, the one NHL player who was courageous enough to put the rainbow-coloured Pride tape on the handle of his stick for a game after the ban, which led to the NHL reversing its ruling.

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“It had to be done,” Dermott told Joshua Clipperton of The Canadian Press. “I was going to deal with whatever came my way.”

Dermott showed courage and conviction doing what he did and should be named the NHL Player of the Week. As a player on a one-year, two-way contract that pays him the league minimum US$800,000 in the NHL and US$450,000 in the AHL, he was taking a big risk doing what he did.

“Not like I’ve really established myself — signed a long-term deal — and because of that was comfortable doing this,” he told Clipperton. “Definitely some anxious moments where I wasn’t sure how it would impact my career. I had crazy ideas going through my head like, ‘Am I going to get kicked out of the league? Are they going to fine me? Am I going to get suspended?’

“Really didn’t know what the repercussions could be.”

The NHL must have realized how bad it would look by suspending or fining Dermott for using Pride tape and instead reversed its ridiculous ruling.

Former Hab helps Blackhawks’ Bedard

Making the jump to the NHL as an 18-year-old is never easy — even if you’re Connor Bedard.

The No. 1 overall pick at this year’s NHL Draft by the Chicago Blackhawks has 3-2-5 totals in his first eight games, but is struggling in the faceoff circle, winning less than 38 per cent of his draws. When the Canadiens beat the Blackhawks 3-2 at the Bell Centre two Saturdays ago, Bedard won only one of the nine faceoffs he took.

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Former Canadien Yanic Perreault is a player development coach with the Blackhawks and has been helping Bedard with faceoffs. Perreault was one of the best faceoff men in NHL history. He finished his 14-year career by playing one season with the Blackhawks in 2007-08, during which he won 64.5 per cent of the 456 faceoffs he took.

Charlie Roumeliotis, who covers the Blackhawks for NBC Sports Chicago, posted this video on Twitter of Perreault dropping the puck while working on faceoffs with Bedard.

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How the Habs were built

Here’s a breakdown of how this season’s Canadiens team was built.

Drafted players (11): Cole Caufield, Jake Evans, Brendan Gallagher, Kaiden Guhle, Jordan Harris, Rafaël Harvey-Pinard, Michael Pezzetta, Carey Price*, Cayden Primeau, Juraj Slafkovsky, Jesse Ylönen.

Free agents (3): David Savard*, Chris Wideman, Arber Xhekaj.

Trades (12): Jake Allen, Josh Anderson, Joel Armia, Justin Barron, Kirby Dach*, Christian Dvorak*, Gustav Lindström, Alex Newhook, Mike Matheson, Sean Monahan, Tanner Pearson, Nick Suzuki.

Waivers (2): Johnathan Kovacevic, Samuel Montembeault.

•- denotes injured player.

Coming birthdays

Canadiens goalie Sam Montembeault will turn 27 on Monday, while former Canadien Mats Naslund turns 64 on Tuesday.

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