In a league stacked with talented young players, two of the brightest stars in the NHL’s youth movement face off against each other tomorrow.
It’s Connor McDavid versus Auston Matthews. Round Two. (Yes, it will be on the NBCSN, too.)
This meeting between the two phenom forwards, both selected first overall with tremendous talent and expectations, also comes at a time when McDavid and Matthews are playing some terrific hockey for their respective clubs.
Nine days ago, McDavid recorded his first career NHL hat trick and has been on a tear since then with 10 points in his last five games. That’s a dominant stretch for a player many expected to begin to dominate the league in his sophomore season.
Yet, in his last game against the Maple Leafs, McDavid was held off the score sheet, despite four shots on goal. Containing McDavid presents a difficult task for Toronto, but it’s not entirely impossible, either.
“Just get in his way, be physical, be hard on him. . . . If you are anything else but hard, he’ll make plays and embarrass you,” said Leafs forward Nazem Kadri, per the Toronto Star.
Matthews, who just snapped a 13-game scoring drought, has five points in his last four games, and head coach Mike Babcock has stated before that he can see his rookie center also becoming a dominant player in this league very soon.
The Maple Leafs are in a rebuild, but they have plenty of young talent on their roster, which just beat Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals, and Matthews is the leader of this new wave.
The NHL is in the midst of a remarkable surge of youthful talent, from McDavid and Matthews to Patrik Laine and Mitch Marner, to Johnny Gaudreau and Aaron Ekblad — among many others. It’s a long and impressive list.
The spotlight shines on McDavid vs. Matthews 2.0 tomorrow night.