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Detroit Red Wings Hope They Aren’t Chasing Connor McDavid All Night



Sam Gagner, Detroit Red Wings
Detroit Red Wings veteran Sam Gagner was in Edmonton when Connor McDavid arrived. He has watched McDavid develop into a "one-of-a-kind" player

The defensive approach to dealing with the Edmonton Oilers’ dynamic duo of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl centers on the understanding of a simple truth.

“If they have the puck the whole night, it’s a hard night,” Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said.

The Red Wings will be looking to play keep-away against Connor McDavid and Draisaitl tonight when they face off at Little Caesars Arena at 7:30 p.m. (Bally Sports).  Few teams have been successful against the twosome this season. Draisaitl has 23 points and McDavid 22 in the Oilers’ 9-1 start.

“They continue to get better and you can see it with the record Edmonton has,” Blashill said.

Draisaitl registered10 points in his past three games, while McDavid has a point in every game the Oilers have played. In those 10 games, he has registered one point twice, two points four times, and three points four times. Recently, he went through four New York Rangers to score a spectacular goal that was the talk of the hockey world.

“It’s having the awareness to see the gap there,” Detroit’s Sam Gagner said about the goal. “He waits for guys to get onside and then he sees the opening. It’s one thing to see the opening. It’s another thing to be able to take two crossovers and be through it.”

McDavid Rockets Up the Ice

McDavid’s speed separates him from everyone else in the league. When he shifts into fifth gear, he’s like a Lamborghini on a road full of jalopies.

“There’s a lot of guys with speed in the league but it’s his processing speed that kind of sets him apart from everybody, and his drive,” said Gagner who was McDavid’s teammate in Edmonton before coming to Detroit. “He’s a one-of-a-kind player. I don’t think we’ve seen anybody like him in the NHL. ”

The Oilers have scored five or more goals seven times this season. The Flyers are the only team to beat them.

The Red Wings won’t be trying to shut down McDavid tonight as much as they will be attempting to limit the damage he inflicts. Blashill said the Red Wings have to make McDavid and Draisaitl defend. They can’t score if the Red Wings have the puck. The Oilers have been using Draisaitl on McDavid’s left wing. Jesse Puljujarvi is on the right wing.

“(McDavid) is the best player in the league and he’s going to create chances,” Gagner said. “The more you can take away…we want to go into this game with a certain level of respect, but at the same time we’re building something here as well.”

Blashill said he doesn’t mind a best-on-best matchup. Dylan Larkin at least has the speed to be competitive with McDavid.

“If (Dylan Larkin’s) line is out against them I have no worries in any of those three players,” Blashill said. “(Tyler Bertuzzi, Larks or (Lucas) Raymond. Lucas is young but he’s a very good two-way player, smart.”