Looking North: Caufield wows with clutch week, Jets stumble into clinch
Welcome to the 16th edition of "Looking North," our weekly Friday dive into the all-Canadian division. This installment dates back to April 30.
The Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers continue to separate themselves from the pack, with the former looking to lock up the top spot in the division this week. The Oilers have won five of their last six and are playing their best hockey heading into the playoffs.
In Montreal, the Canadiens followed up their three-game winning streak with a pair of uninspiring losses. On the bright side, the club received a major boost from rookie Cole Caufield, who netted three goals - including a pair of overtime winners - in five games.
The Winnipeg Jets hope to ride the momentum of a decisive 4-0 win over the Calgary Flames to turn their fortunes around. The club may have clinched a playoff spot, but the win ended a tough seven-game slide during which Winnipeg was outscored 28-10. Losing sniper Nik Ehlers was a tough blow, but the Jets need to rediscover their scoring touch if they want to make a serious postseason push.
Meanwhile, the Ottawa Senators continue to show significant improvement as the season wanes on. The club torched Montreal with a 5-1 victory and has collected a division-best eight wins since April 12.
|Team||Points over last week|
|Montreal Canadiens||7 (3-1-1)|
|Edmonton Oilers||6 (3-1-0)|
|Ottawa Senators||5 (2-0-1)|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||5 (2-0-1)|
|Winnipeg Jets||2 (1-2-0)|
|Vancouver Canucks||2 (1-3-0)|
|Calgary Flames||0 (0-2-0)|
Forward: Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl casually combined for 21 points in four games last week, but Nick Suzuki put on a show of his own. The Canadiens pivot, who had a seven-game point streak snapped Thursday, tallied two goals and six helpers.
Defense: Jeff Petry was on a mission for the Canadiens last week. The 6-foot-3 blue-liner added to his career-best campaign with a goal and six assists through five games to hit the 40-point mark for the third straight season.
Goalie: Mike Smith has quietly had an incredible bounce-back season. The veteran puck-stopper picked up a pair of victories for the Oilers last week, allowing only one goal in each. His .925 save percentage this season is tops in the North Division.
Canadian of the week
McDavid's chase for 100 remains very much in reach, and the Oilers captain is about as hot as he's ever been after another sensational week. He recorded points on 12 of the Oilers' 16 goals last week to bring his total up to 96 with four games remaining.
What a week for Caufield. The Canadiens rookie was brought in for the stretch run and has delivered in a big way. Caufield buried his first NHL goal in overtime against the Senators on Hockey Night in Canada last Saturday.
In Edmonton, McDavid was up to his old tricks, and his latest all-world highlight mirrored one of Sidney Crosby's most memorable goals from 2007. The resemblance is striking.
Auston Matthews hit the 40-goal mark for the third time in his young career, and he did it in just 49 games this season. The Maple Leafs star is scoring 0.81 goals per game, which is the highest rate since the lockout in 2004-05.
Will the Canadiens catch the Jets? Montreal has occupied the fourth seed for several weeks, but the Jets' recent slip has opened the door for the Habs to move into third. Hockey fans will hope the Canadiens stay put in fourth to set up the first playoff series between Montreal and Toronto since 1978-79.
Games to watch
The Leafs and Canadiens square off for the 10th and final time this regular season on Saturday, with Toronto looking to lock up the top spot in the North.
With McDavid in pursuit of 100 points, all Oilers games are appointment viewing. Edmonton faces Vancouver on Saturday before heading to Montreal for a pair of games with the Habs on Monday and Wednesday.