Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid: Hockey’s Future is Here
Photos: Getty Images
On the opening night of the NHL’s 100th season, Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid thrilled long-suffering hockey fans in Toronto and Edmonton with outstanding performances, giving us all a glimpse of the future of hockey.
First Matthews: The 19-year-old first-rounder, who carries the weight of Maple Leaf fans hopes on his big shoulders, somehow lived up to his huge expectations by scoring four goals in the team’s 5-4 overtime loss to the Ottawa Senators. Using a combination of deft puck-handling, speed, power and a wicked shot, Matthews scintillating debut stunned long-time observers, including coach Mike Babcock, with his four tallies, a record for rookies playing their first game.
“I’ve never seen anything like it. We’re all part of history tonight,” said Babcock. After scoring his fourth goal, Leaf Nation was having a collective meltdown and his parents hugged each other in disbelief.
In Edmonton, McDavid couldn’t match Matthews’ historic output, but he did score two goals, leading his Oilers to a 7-4 win over provincial rivals Calgary Flames. Anytime the young captain touched the puck, you had the sense the Oilers could score, a feeling that’s been missing from Edmonton since the glory days of Gretzky, Messier, Coffey et al.