The 2023 NHL playoffs start in a single week, and two of the sport’s largest stars shall be trying to win their first Stanley Cup. Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews are already beginning to run out of room of their trophy circumstances, however thus far, the Stanley Cup has eluded each gamers.
The Edmonton Oilers chosen Connor McDavid with the No. 1 general decide within the 2015 NHL Draft. One yr later, Matthews went to the Toronto Maple Leafs with the highest decide.
Now, McDavid and Matthews are arguably the highest two gamers within the league. They have mixed to win the Hart Trophy thrice, the Art Ross Trophy 4 occasions and the Rocket Richard Trophy twice. Those totals will solely hold climbing over the subsequent decade.
The solely hurdle remaining for every participant is hoisting 35 kilos of silver and nickel alloy. Getting to that second is probably the largest problem in all of sports activities, which is one thing that McDavid and Matthews are properly conscious of by now.
Matthews hasn’t even seen the second spherical of the playoffs but. He’s been to the playoffs six occasions, and Toronto has misplaced in Game 7 4 occasions. Those early exits have not fallen on the shoulders of Matthews, however the Leafs should discover a option to capitalize on their championship window.
McDavid and the Oilers have been a bit of extra profitable within the postseason, however they nonetheless have not gotten any nearer than eight wins away from a Stanley Cup. Edmonton reached the Western Conference Finals in 2022, the place they had been swept by the Colorado Avalanche. Despite falling brief, McDavid was the very best participant within the postseason. He tallied 33 factors, which led the league and equaled Matthews’ profession postseason level complete.
This season, McDavid and Matthews can depart previous playoff woes within the mud. They are each taking part in at an elite degree, they usually have groups which can be totally able to going all the best way.
Matthews’ Maple Leafs have a more durable path
The Maple Leafs are locked into second place within the Atlantic Division, and they’ll get a first-round matchup towards the Tampa Bay Lightning for the second consecutive season. For the primary time in years, the Lightning truly look considerably weak heading into the postseason.
Since the commerce deadline, the Maple Leafs are simply 9-5-3, however they’ve battled accidents and nonetheless produced some respectable underlying numbers.Toronto has managed 52.66% of the anticipated objectives at five-on-five, per Natural Stat Trick.Matthews himself has hit his stride. In his final 19 video games, he has led the Leafs with 11 objectives, 14 assists, and 25 factors. Matthews must be at his finest for Toronto to win its first Stanley Cup in 1967.Matthews’ robust supporting forged consists of Mitchell Marner, William Nylander, John Tavares, Ryan O’Reilly and Morgan Rielly.
Toronto can match up with each group within the postseason, however the different two groups on the high of the Atlantic Division are simply as robust as them. Their street to the Stanley Cup Final shall be a brutal one. If Toronto can get the first-round monkey off its again towards a group that has gained the Eastern Conference in three straight seasons, it’ll possible need to face the Boston Bruins, maybe the best regular-season group in NHL historical past.
Add within the convention finals, and the Leafs will most likely need to face three very actual Stanley Cup contenders earlier than even reaching the ultimate. Before they’ll fear about that, Matthews has to assist lead the group to its first postseason collection win since 2004.
McDavid’s Oilers might want to knock off defending champs
On the opposite facet of the bracket, the Oilers have a barely extra manageable path, they usually appear to be peaking on the proper time.
Edmonton is 15-2-1 for the reason that commerce deadline, the NHL’s finest file in that span..The red-hot Oilers have been led by McDavid, who’s having the very best season the NHL has seen since Mario Lemieux was torching the remainder of the league in 1995-96. McDavid has surpassed 150 factors on the season, and he can go forward and clear some house on his cabinets for an additional Hart Trophy.We know McDavid is able to carrying a flawed group for not less than a few rounds within the playoffs. This yr’s group would not have as many cracks as final yr’s, and that makes the Oilers a favourite to win the Western Conference.
Leon Draisaitl, Zach Hyman, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins give McDavid loads of assist up entrance, however the protection and goaltending have improved essentially the most. The acquisition of first-pairing defender Mattias Ekholm has rounded out Edmonton’s blue line, and Stuart Skinner has given the Oilers dependable goaltending all season. If he can hold that up within the playoffs, few groups will be capable to stack up with Edmonton from the crease to the highest line.
Getting by means of the Pacific Division, which additionally comprises the Vegas Golden Knights and Los Angeles Kings will not be straightforward, although. Those groups are able to rising because the Western Conference champs, however neither of them have anybody who can sustain with McDavid when he’s at his finest.
The hardest potential collection for the Oilers can be a Western Conference Finals rematch with the Avalanche. Despite some adjustments from final yr’s group, the Avs nonetheless boast a loaded roster and shall be on a mission to win the Cup in back-to-back seasons. On high of that, Nathan MacKinnon is on the brief record of gamers who truly can go toe-to-toe with McDavid. That can be a enjoyable battle to observe, particularly now that the Oilers have comparable firepower elsewhere.
McDavid and Matthews have rightfully earned high billing because the NHL’s two largest stars, and now it is time for them to etch their names on the Stanley Cup. Based solely on the gauntlet that Toronto should navigate, it looks as if McDavid has the higher probability to interrupt by means of first in 2023, however Matthews and the Maple Leafs have all of the components you search for in a championship-caliber group.
If NHL followers are fortunate, McDavid and Matthews even meet each other within the Stanley Cup Final.
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