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Nathan MacKinnon and Connor McDavid deliver ‘dream game’ to NHL and its viewers – Greeley Tribune

By on May 31, 2022 0

This should be a one-series star-studded MacDandy.

Or is it McDandy?

Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson called it a ‘dream game’ – a one-on-one showdown of superstar centers that will take the Western Conference Finals to the next level as the game’s visibility increases thanks to a new television contract.

Nathan MacKinnon of Colorado against Connor McDavid of Edmonton. Two of the best centers in the world meet for the first time in the same Stanley Cup playoff series. The prize: A chance to play for the Stanley Cup.

“I’m sure it’s the dream game the league wanted, right? In the West for sure,” Johnson said. “Two of the best players in the league are getting into it. Two of the fastest players, two of the most skilled guys.

“It’s great for hockey. It’s great for the fans. It’s great for both teams. »

McDavid, 25, was the NHL’s leading scorer for the fourth time this season and is the favorite to win his third Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player. MacKinnon, 26, has been a Hart Trophy finalist in three of the past five years.

“They’re two of the best players and there’s a lot of media spotlight,” said Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic, a two-time Stanley Cup champion and first-round Hall of Famer. “You will see that here. In this round. It’s gonna be exciting.

The last time the NHL saw anything like it was when 21-year-old Sidney Crosby and 22-year-old Alex Ovechkin faced off in the 2009 Eastern Conference semifinals in the first of the four playoff meetings between the star forwards.

Crosby and Ovechkin each had hat tricks in Game 2 of this series, with the former scoring 13 points (eight goals/five assists) and the latter 14 points (eight goals/six assists) in what ended as a seven-game classic. The Crosby Penguins beat the Ovechkin Capitals 2-1 in Game 7 en route to the Stanley Cup.

“This series will be a totally different theme than the Crosby/Ovie game,” TSN analyst Darren Pang told The Post. “Crosby didn’t take faceoffs and really didn’t face OV, being a winger. This game is unlike anything we’ve ever seen as both are “bullet train” centers from the top of both face-off circles. They’re both tenacious on loose pucks, both aren’t selfish shooters or gamblers, they make high speed plays, can light up a dime and give you 5 cents change and smile as they skate alongside you.

MacKinnon, the No. 1 draft pick of the 2013 class, downplayed the individual game against McDavid, who became No. 1 overall in 2015 and reaped more individual awards.

“He’s the best. I said that (previously),” MacKinnon said of McDavid on Monday. ‘Stop. I don’t really think about that much. Of course, I see that (hype). I hope it will attract more viewers and reduce escrow, but other than that, I don’t care.

McDavid also played down the matchup on Monday, opting instead to talk about the Avs’ overall talent. He was then asked about MacKinnon again and said, “There’s a lot to like, obviously. He skates very well, strong, plays the game at full speed all the time and makes defense difficult.

“They’re both humble guys, and they won’t try to get away with it,” Avs center Nazem Kadri said of MacKinnon and McDavid. “It’s more a kind of media scenario, but two great players leading two great teams.”

Even though both teams want to divert attention from MacKinnon against McDavid, there’s no doubt that it couldn’t have come at a better time for the NHL.

With playoff ratings up thanks to the league’s change of television partners to ESPN and TNT, viewers will get to see two of the game’s most aesthetically pleasing stars go head-to-head in the Conference Finals for the first time.

MacKinnon and McDavid both have the kind of games that can be enjoyed by hockey fans and casual fans alike. And both reach the peak of their powers with enough talent around them to win the Stanley Cup.

“They have world-class players and so do we,” Sakic said. “Both teams have great depth, top to bottom in roster contributions. I think for the league, if you’re a fan of the game, you’re going to enjoy this series. You’re going to have the best against the best and it’s going to be a great seven-game series.

If MacKinnon and the Avs are to move forward, it will almost certainly start with how they handle McDavid.

McDavid and teammate Leon Draisaitl, a natural center who plays on McDavid’s right wing in critical time, lead all playoff scorers with 26 points in 12 games. Both have seven goals and 19 assists.

McDavid scored in overtime in Game 5 to eliminate the Calgary Flames in the Conference Semifinals series. He finished with 12 points (three goals) in the “Battle of Alberta”.

“It’s a team effort to defend (McDavid),” Avs defenseman Devon Toews said. “You can’t just try to defend one-on-one or have a certain line to go against because there will be times in games where there will be icing or just difficult scenarios where a different line goes. confront them.

“Everyone has to bring it. Everybody. We need everyone to defend against guys like that. And we train well with, with Nate and Mikko (Rantanen) and Gabe (Landeskog) and all these other guys that we have on our team that can really bring it.