The Wraparound is your daily look at the 2021 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. We’ll break down the NHL playoff games today with the all-important television and live streaming information included.
Being that the Vegas Golden Knights are somehow still just in their fourth season of NHL existence, you’d think they would be the team with younger legs. But, nope, not really. The Golden Knights became competitive in a hurry, which eventually meant building through trades and free agency, rather than the NHL Draft.
Sometimes that even meant sacrificing first-round picks and prospects.
And, in a cruel twist of fate that also feels extremely hockey, one of those prospects is burning them. While the Golden Knights seem like they need to sell a soul for each goal, the Canadiens occasionally make it look easy — especially when Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield are doing the damage.
In case you needed a reminder that Suzuki was one of the Golden Knights’ initial first-round draft picks, well …
… That image has to burn a Golden Knights fan or two.
[NBC 2021 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]
Looking at the numbers alone, you can tell that Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield aren’t shrinking from the moment. Suzuki’s generated 13 points in 16 games, including five (1G, 4A) in his last three contests vs. the Golden Knights. Caufield has eight points in his first 14 playoff games, including five through the first five games of the Golden Knights – Canadiens series.
Frankly, with Caufield, the real key might have been getting the Canadiens to trust him enough to be unleashed. Take it from, uh, NFL superstar J.J. Watt?
this Canadiens-Leafs game could use some Cole Caufield… #StanleyCupPlayoffs
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) May 21, 2021
Caufield is 20, and Suzuki is just 21. When you consider how the Canadiens landed both, it makes it easier to understand why Marc Bergevin might be GM of the Year material.
(Even if he landed the two quite a while ago. Hey, it’s as much a career-related award as it is one for the 2020-21 NHL season. Right? Kinda?)
[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2021 schedule, TV info]
As much as the numbers make your eyes pop — the scoring, doing so at such young ages — it’s the way that Caufield and Suzuki get there that makes them that much more endearing. Under the right spotlight, perhaps if the Canadiens eliminate the Golden Knights in Game 6 on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; USA Network / Peacock), it could raise their stature as rising stars.
They’re already supplementing that steak with the sizzle of “bulletin board material.”
Following Game 4, Robin Lehner shed unusual light on his thought process, explaining how he prepared for a Cole Caufield breakaway chance. In response, Caufield said he was glad Lehner “opened his mouth.” We didn’t get to see the immediate response since the Golden Knights started Marc-Andre Fleury in Game 5, but maybe that will be continued in Game 6?
Either way, it cemented the thought that Suzuki and Caufield are bringing beyond-their-years swagger to the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
#Habs Suzuki on Caufield responding confidently to Lehner‘s “scouting report” about him after Game 4: “That kid’s got a ton of swagger.”
— John Lu (@JohnLuTSNMtl) June 23, 2021
At times, the Canadiens are locking down the Golden Knights to the point that Vegas looks a little tight, and quite frustrated.
How annoying must it be, then, to see these two young scorers counterpunch so effectively? And with the swagger of someone with little to lose? (Or, at least, without registering the pressure of the moment.)
It all translates to a Canadiens duo that’s fun to watch — except, maybe, if you’re rooting for the Golden Knights.
THURSDAY’S NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE
Game 6: Golden Knights at Canadiens, 8 p.m. ET (MTL leads 3-2) – USA Network / Peacock (livestream)
FRIDAY’S NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE
Game 7: Islanders at Lightning, 8 p.m. ET (Series tied 3-3) – NBCSN / Peacock (livestream)
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.