LGD: Connor’s temporary team faces Connor’s real team

Photo Credit: Kevin Souza/USA TODAY SPORTS

Hockey journalists across the continent are hyping up tonight’s game as the start of one of the greatest rivalries of our generation, where Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews embark in many great hockey games against each other for years to come.

Seems like an odd narrative, given that the two will only play in 12 regular seasons against each other in their career, but sure, let’s go for it.

The Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs lines courtesy of Daily Faceoff

There’s a decent chance these lines change before puck drop; this is closer to the group that played on Sunday in Brooklyn. Maybe this is tonight that Frank Corrado gets freed. Maybe this is the night that Mitch Marner gets to take his chances with Nazem Kadri. Maybe Connor demands his trade during one of the intermission. None of us really know for sure.

The Oilers

Edmonton Oilers lines courtesy of Daily Faceoff

The other thing about the McDavid vs. Matthews forced rivalry is that it isn’t very fair. Auston Matthews might become the second best player on earth, and it might happen sooner than you’d think. Heck, he might already be third. But Connor is definitely the best player on the planet right now, and barring injury, he’s got a shot at being one of the absolute greatest players of all time.

Connor McDavid may have been the most talented skater to ever play hockey when he was 15 or 16 years old. Keeping up with him in a foot race is like trying to race Usain Bolt to the convenience store. Using your stick as help is an easy way to put the Oilers on the powerplay. Every single player that plays with him sees an uptick in their possession and production that, if it weren’t for him and some solid goaltending, I’m not certain that the Oilers wouldn’t have a negative season point total right now. While Edmonton writers pump their chests and suggest that management was right all along for trading the second or third best Left Winger on Earth for a second or third pairing defenceman, what they’re missing is that after years of blowing it with draft lottery wins, the Oilers lucked into the second or third best player ever acquired through the draft system and that he’s been carrying this team since before he could legally drink.

Starting Goaltenders

Frederik Andersen isn’t confirmed to start in goal, but after a night off and Jhonas Enroth struggling against the Islanders, there’s no reason to assume he won’t. Andersen, to his credit, has looked rather good in his last two games; whatever was bugging him, physically or mentally, seems to be behind him.

Cam Talbot is in the other crease. Last time we did a Leafs/Oilers LGD, I mocked him for being a starting goaltender simply because he was an Oiler, and that his slightly below average save percentage probably made him the best goaltender in Edmonton’s history. However, it’s worth noting that he finished his season very strong after adjusting to his teammates and has been flat out dominant for the Oilers this year, easily their second best player other than McDavid. I also really appreciated that he stayed out to applaud Sens goaltender Craig Anderson after his shutout a couple of nights ago; while not necessary, it was still a cool gesture.

With that said, the Leafs will totally be looking to drag that 0.936 over 9 games down.

What To Look Out For

Screencapped for the 90% of you that are blocked by Mike Harrington

Puck drop is at 7:30 PM. Catch the game on TSN4, or stop by the McDavid house and see if his parents will let you cheer with them.

  • Funkmasterficko

    Oh Leafs fans… Never too many high profiled UFAs rumoured to be heading to the ‘6’ hey?

    One thing I don’t understand is your sense of entitlement to every player residing from the province of Ontario. The most recent example that comes to mind is Stamkos… Supposedly he dreams of becoming a leaf, reaches unrestricted free agency and then what happens? He takes a beautiful hometown discount to stay where?! Tampa Bay! Turns out the idea of staying where he was drafted and remaining a key cog in the team built around him was more important than ‘going home’.

    What makes you think it will be any different with McDavid? Edmonton will become an annual playoff contender (whether its this year, next or even the one after), he is idolized by all (even worshiped) and essentially triggered an entire organization to be structured in a way for him to succeed. Yet you think he will abandon ship the moment he has the chance? Cut me a break.

    You guys have your prize in Mathews, you have Nylander and Marner, yet I can bet every off season we (outside of the Leafs market) will continue to be flooded with rumours of the next Ontario kid taking a discount to ‘go home’.

    A Canadian market other than Toronto finally has a focal point for international hockey, and you guys instantly speculate of when he will be ‘going home’. Sad state of affairs for you guys.