Jack Eichel and Connor McDavid Face-Off For the First Time

For the first time in their NHL careers Jack Eichel and Connor McDavid will face-off against each other.  Of course the remainder of the Buffalo Sabres and Edmonton Oilers rosters will be on the ice as well, but lets not kid ourselves on what tonight’s game is about.  Eichel and McDavid were built up as two future superstars of the NHL.  One an American born forward from Boston in Eichel and the other a Canadian born forward from Richmond Hill (Toronto).

It was set up perfectly for the NHL with these two youngsters being the new Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin rivalry.  As you may know things don’t always go to plan.  The Oilers won the lottery and McDavid is now in Western Canada, while Eichel plays on the East coast.  The rivalry idea may be out the window now as these two will only meet twice a year in interconference matchups.  With that being said, even though they play on opposite coasts, Eichel and McDavid will be compared for the entirety of their careers.

Individual Success

The two 19-year-old centers are having successful rookie seasons, but the traveled path has been different.  Eichel has played in every game for the Sabres this season.  He’s registered 17 goals and 41 points through 63 games which puts him 2nd on the team in both categories.  The 2015 2nd overall pick has had numerous highlight reel plays throughout the season and has shown how he can be a dominant player at such a young age.

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McDavid on the other hand has only appeared in 27 games for the Oilers this season.  He missed a few months of the season with a broken collarbone that he suffered only a few weeks into the season.  When McDavid has been on the ice though he’s been electric.  He’s scored 10 goals and 29 points which puts him at 1.07 points per game.  Meaning over an 82 game stretch McDavid would be on pace for roughly 88 points.  The 2015 1st overall pick has lived up the hype as the “next one” and is going to be fun to watch for the next decade or more.

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Cellar Dwellers

Individually the season has gone different for both players, but common ground can be found in their respective clubs success; well lack of success in this case.  The expectation going into the season was for both the Sabres and Oilers to begin to turn things around and climb up the standings.  Well, that hasn’t been the case.  Edmonton currently sits with 29th in the NHL standings with 53 points, while

Kevin Shattenkirk
Photo by Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Buffalo sits in 26th with 57 points.

The primary issues remain the same as the previous season for both teams.  The Sabres still have trouble putting the puck in the net, while the Oilers have trouble keeping the puck out of their net.  Injuries have played a significant factor for both, but that doesn’t explain it all.

This will be the 2nd time the Sabres meet the Oilers this season.  In December the Oilers picked up a 4-2 victory at Rexall Place.  The rosters will look different as both teams made some moves at the trade deadline as sellers.  Usually when these two clubs match up you see a fairly open and exciting game.  I expect the atmosphere to be electric in Buffalo and I expect to see some flash from both Eichel and McDavid.

Also read: Buffalo Sabres: Defining Improvement