Bruins prepare for first Connor McDavid challenge
The Boston Bruins rebounded nicely from the opening night disaster in Washington with a pair of decisive wins against Atlantic Division rivals and will look to extend their winning streak against Edmonton on Thursday night at TD Garden.
Stopping Connor McDavid, one of the NHL’s premier talents, is a major key for Thursday’s showdown; a task much easier said than done.
“He was in the same draft I was and obviously he’s a pretty big name. Led the league in points so obviously he is a very good player. I think the biggest thing when you watch him is his speed. Everyone says that it’s the speed of his feet but I think its how thinks the game and his hands. He’s thinking two steps ahead of the game at all times,” Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk said about the two-time NHL scoring champion.
“The best player in the game? If he isn’t he’s on the verge. Personally, I think Sidney [Crosby] still is but every year is different and we haven’t played against either one of them.”
The top overall draft pick in 2015 has the deadly combination of elite speed, skill and ice vision that has turned most defenses in the league into a Sportscenter highlight.
Entering his fourth season with the Oilers, McDavid has shown that he has a knack for finding the net, tallying 258 points (87 goals, 171 assists) in 210 games and increasing his point output every year.
Last season, McDavid finished with a league-best 108 points (41 goals, 67 assists) and has already notched two assists in Edmonton’s lone game so far this year.
The Bruins’ players and coaching staff aren’t taking the McDavid challenge lightly. For starters, they’ll plan on using whatever center is on the ice, most likely Patrice Bergeron or Sean Kuraly, in tandem with a defenseman to shadow McDavid while he’s on the ice.
“He’s obviously an elite player. He’s going to get his looks because he’s an elite player,” Cassidy stated about McDavid. “Now what we tried to do last year was even use Sean Kuraly, who’s a good skater, try to match up with him. Sean [Kuraly] is 6-foot-2, 208-pounds so he has got the frame and the foot speed to do it. We may look to that at times to try and match his speed and force the puck out of his hands. On the backend, [Zdeno] Chara will probably match up with him and John Moore is a great skater too, so we have two guys there that can hopefully limit him.”
Boston split the season series with Edmonton last year and held McDavid to a pair of assists in two meetings. The Bruins will look to continue that trend on Causeway St. Thursday night and walk away with their third consecutive victory.