Epic battle between McDavid and Matthews has more intrigue than ever

Connor McDavid #97 of the Edmonton Oilers. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)
Connor McDavid #97 of the Edmonton Oilers. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images) /

Connor McDavid against Auston Matthews is going to take on a whole new meaning tonight.

We will be treated to the first edition of 9 Toronto Maple Leafs against the Edmonton Oilers showdowns later today and, therefore, the first time we will get to see Auston Matthews duel off against Connor McDavid this season.

It should be a mouthwatering clash between two of the brightest young talents in the National Hockey League right now, but there will also be a lot of importance on this game for both McDavid and Matthews and their respective teams.

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For instance, the Oilers have struggled so far in 2020-21 and are 1-3-0 on the year, ranking 23rd in Goals For Per Game (2.50) and 25th in Goals Against Per Game (3.75). They’ve been outscored 15-10, the power play is 0-for-10 and they’ve allowed 109 shots against at 5-on-5.

Of course, when McDavid is on the ice it is a different story and the Oilers have controlled 61.11 percent of 5-on-5 shots with their franchise cornerstone out there, but bad goaltending and a lack of secondary scoring has combined to really stifle McDavid and Edmonton thus far.

Plus, as was exposed in Monday’s loss to the Montreal Canadiens, who look a legit hockey team by the way, the Oilers are completely shut down when the shackles are put on McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, as was the case in their third loss of the year.

Now, it is still early but, in what is a shortened 56-game season, you can’t afford to lose too many games this early and the pressure will be on the Edmonton Oilers to start putting things right tonight, and they will be leaning on McDavid to add to his five points (3 G, 2 A).

Then we get on to Auston Matthews and the Toronto Maple Leafs. It has been a pretty decent start to the 2020-21 season for the Leafs who currently sit atop the hugely entertaining and compelling North Division with 3-1-0 record and, after beating the Winnipeg Jets 3-1 on Monday, they will look to make it three wins in a row tonight.

Auston Matthews (34)
Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (34). Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports /

They are getting plenty of offense from John Tavares and Mitch Marner who both have six points apiece, although Matthews only has four points (1 G, 3 A) in four games. However, he ranks high in a number of offensive metrics and has arguably been one of Toronto’s most impressive players this year and, going up against a combination of bad goaltending and a leaky blueline, expect Matthews to beef up his stats tonight.

It should be a fascinating game between two heavyweights expected to slug it out for the Playoffs in the North Division, and there is the added caveat that McDavid absolutely feasts on the Maple Leafs with 5 goals and 15 points in nine career games. Not bad at all.

This is already a crucial game for the Oilers who can’t afford to fall too far behind the pace in a shortened season, while McDavid will want to put his team on his shoulders and lead them to what would be a statement win tonight, while Matthews will be keen to explode offensively and prove that McDavid isn’t the only big star in the North Division.

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So, when the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Edmonton Oilers face off tonight, not only will precious points be at stake but we should see two highly-motivated players in Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews who will be going all out to lead their respective teams to a vital win but to also show who is the top dog.