There are certain games when the calendar comes out that if you always use a calendar and don’t put everything in your phone you will circle for sure.
Honestly, it’s hard not to check game attribution and circle every Oilers game when you have Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. However, some stand out. For example, every time Edmonton plays Toronto. Partly because it’s McDavid’s home team and part of it is the connection between him and Auston Matthews – chosen first overall two years in a row. There are also Edmonton-Pittsburgh game nights. I don’t need to explain because it’s one generational talent over another.
But let’s focus on another must-see televised hockey game between Washington and Edmonton taking place Wednesday night from the US capital.
It’s a game that has a lot of talent on both sides, but I’m going to focus on one specific talent, which is scoring goals. Right now in the NHL, no one is doing it better than Alex Ovechkin and Leon Draisaitl.
I say this with all due respect to New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider, who is having a fantastic season and leads the League with 33 goals, two ahead of Leon who has 31. Right behind them are Ovechkin and Matthews with 29 each.
Video: [email protected]: Draisaitl makes a good rebound on a missed shot
There are tons of gifted scorers in the NHL, but the top two are a Russian and a German. They are, in my opinion, similar images of each other, except that Alex is right-handed and Leon is left-handed. Both are tall (Ovechkin is 6ft 3in and 238lbs while Draisaitl is 6ft 2in and 208lbs) and strong. Capital shows it more with their hits and the Oiler with their ability to protect pucks from defenders, but what really makes them similar and dangerous are their shots. They are both heavy, hard and precise.
If Wayne Gretzky’s office was behind the net, which it was, then Ovechkin’s is at the face-off circle where he’s throwing bombs. Just like Wayne, everyone knows where he’s going to be, especially on the power play, but 17 seasons into his career and no one has been able to stop him.
He’s got a shot, as Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner recently witnessed in his dented mask, that should require a permit. Shoot first, ask questions later has always been the Russian way of thinking.
Then there is Leon who, like Ovechkin, has found a nice place on the other side of the ice but also in the face-off circle. He often crashes and waits for a feathery pass from a teammate who wears number 97 so he can also terrorize NHL goaltenders. His shot may not be as hard, but he seems to be as heavy, if not heavier than his Capitals counterpart.
If the two had a shooting contest, Ovechkin’s shot would shatter the piece of plywood while Leon’s would go right through it. Leon has also shown the will and interest, like Ovechkin, to shoot a lot, but the German’s stick accuracy is unmatched. He will shoot and score from anywhere.
The Big Eight is in pursuit of the Big One and seems destined to do whatever it can to catch him. Gretzky has scored 894 goals and Ovechkin has 759. Surprisingly, he still scores at such a high rate, but it sheds more light on what Draisaitl was able to do.
Video: [email protected]: Draisaitl scores in the 2nd period
In the 2018-19 season, a meager goal is all that separated the 51 times Ovechkin scored from the 50 times Draisaitl lit the lamp. Since then, it is the German Gretzky who has scored more goals than the Russian scoring machine (105-101).
It’s incredible to see these numbers when you know that Leon often looks to pass before shooting. Here’s a look at each of their assists starting with Ovechkin, who has played in 1,243 games and has 619 assists (0.498 assists per game). In the case of Draisaitl, he has played 519 games and has 337 assists (0.649 assists per game).
I’m not saying this as a review, but just to compare. One of the greatest things about the game of hockey is seeing the joy on Ovie’s face as he fills the net. But the Deutschland Dangler might have the best backhand pass in the game as well as the amazing ability to rack up points with goals or assists.
If I’m Jack Michaels, the Oilers’ universally beloved voice, I’m probably preparing my delivery for when “shoot and score” is said during Wednesday’s game between Edmonton and Washington.
This could turn out to be a goalscoring classic between Alexander Ovechkin and Leon Draisaitland I don’t think I’m going Ovie-board with enthusiasm.