They may be the most dynamic duo in the NHL today, but with the lack of offence at times in Edmonton, the Oilers are forced to move Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl to different lines – breaking up their Batman and Robin, separating their Han Solo and Chewbacca.
Combined, they are two of the most lethal players to hit the ice over the past few seasons. Both sit atop the league in points – something that seems to be a yearly storyline – and both have torn up the Toronto Maple Leafs over their years in the league.
But is it easier to contain them as a unit or on separate lines? Maple Leafs’ head coach, Sheldon Keefe, shared his thoughts on the matter following his team’s overtime win against the Oilers on Saturday.
Oilers’ Duo Dynamic Together
This season, the Oilers’ duo has sparked their team offensively. Draisaitl has scored 19 goals and 54 points in 36 games, while McDavid has led the charge with 21 goals and 63 points in 36 games.
Over their careers, they’ve torched Toronto with a combined 15 goals and 40 points in 18 games.
As for their nine-game season series against the Maple Leafs this season, that came to an end on Monday, Mar. 29, Draisaitl finished with five goals and 11 points in nine games and McDavid finished with three goals and 10 points in nine games.
But together, on one line, things begin to get frightening. In 36 games this season, their numbers are staggering when they are placed on a line together. On a line together, the Oilers have combined for 55 goals and just nine goals against.
McDavid, without Draisaitl on the ice, is an even 23 goals for and 23 against, while Draisaitl without McDavid is just a plus-two in that department with 20 goals for and 18 against. Without both of them on the ice, the Oilers have just 24 goals and 53 goals against.
The fact is, the Oilers are more dangerous when these two are on the ice together. While some, like Keefe, might worry about just one mistake against one single line, the duo are much more dynamic and can create so many more opportunities as part of the same unit. So, as an opposing coach, when asked if you’d rather have McDavid and Draisaitl playing together or apart, it’s safe to say the better answer is to have them on separate lines.
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.