January 5 — A Look Back at Matthews vs McDavid

Yesterday’s NHL Scores

Last Night’s News 📰

DEPLETED DEVILS: New Jersey will be without offseason acquisitions Dougie Hamilton and Jonathan Bernier for the immediate future. Bernier had hip surgery on Monday and will be out for the remainder of the season, while Hamilton will have surgery today on his broken jaw. Hamilton suffered the injury in Sunday’s game against the Washington Capitals. 

A TRICK FOR TERRY: Troy Terry notched his first career hat trick on Monday, scoring goals No. 19, 20, and 21 on the season. Terry, who started the season on a 16-game point streak, only has three goals and one assist in four games since returning from the holiday break. 

100-GAME DROUGHT: It had been 100 NHL games since the Detroit Red Wings last scored a shorthanded goal and more than 22 years (Dec. 17, 1999) since they scored two shorties on the same penalty kill. However, on Monday night, the Wings scored twice in 39 seconds while killing off a five-minute major en route to their 6-2 win over the San Jose Sharks.

MAKAR’S MAGNIFICENT MARKER: Cale Makar scored one of the prettiest goals of the year, completing the comeback for the Colorado Avalanche over the Chicago Blackhawks in overtime last night. Alex DeBrincat scored two third-period power-play goals 40 seconds apart to give the Hawks the lead before Erik Johnson’s second goal tied the game midway through the third.

Wild Card Wednesday

Eastern Conference

Last Week: Pittsburgh Penguins & Detroit Red Wings

Pittsburgh Penguins: Since last Wednesday, the Penguins only played one game as their contests against the Maple Leafs and Senators were postponed. Their lone game resulted in an 8-5 victory over the San Jose Sharks. It was their eighth consecutive victory, and both Evan Rodrigues and Bryan Rust earned a hat trick. Pittsburgh’s next scheduled game is tonight against the St. Louis Blues. 

Boston Bruins: The Bruins have jumped ahead of the Red Wings and have secured the final Wild Card spot for now. They are currently on a three-game winning streak and will face a struggling Minnesota Wild team tomorrow at TD Garden. Boston is only one point ahead of Detroit and will need to maintain their winning streak alive to keep their division rival at bay. 

Team to Watch: Columbus Blue Jackets

Western Conference

Last Week: Colorado Avalanche & Edmonton Oilers

Colorado Avalanche: With a win against the Chicago Blackhawks last night, the Avalanche continue to solidify their spot as the first Wild Card in the West. They had an extremely long COVID pause dating back to Dec. 18 but have been perfect since their return on Jan. 2. Nathan MacKinnon has four assists in his last two games, with a total of 27 points in 18 games this season. 

Edmonton Oilers: Things are slowly coming off the rails for the Oilers. Their record over their last 10 games is 2-6-2, and they are barely hanging onto the final Wild Card spot. On top of that, Connor McDavid has tested positive for COVID-19 and will be in the protocol. 

Team to Watch: Los Angeles Kings

Matthews vs. McDavid

The Toronto Maple Leafs will host the Edmonton Oilers tonight, which would usually mean a showdown between two of the NHL’s brightest young stars, Toronto’s Auston Matthews and Edmonton’s Connor McDavid. However, neither player practiced on Tuesday due to COVID protocols. Matthews was held out of practice on Monday and Tuesday due to a positive rapid test, but the PCR test he took on Tuesday came back negative, so he has a chance to suit up Wednesday if he tests negative again. McDavid tested positive on Tuesday, but he has yet to be ruled out for Wednesday as he awaits further test results. 

Hopefully, fans will get to see two of the most skilled players in hockey face off against each other for the second and final time this season. But whether they do or not, let’s take a look back at how the 24-year-old phenoms have fared against each other thus far in their careers.

The Beginning (2016-17 & 2017-18)

McDavid, who turns 25 on Jan. 13, was the first-overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft. Matthews was the first-overall pick a year later, and his team played McDavid’s Oilers twice during his rookie season. The first-ever meeting between the two forwards occurred on Nov. 1, 2016. Matthews had six shots on goal while McDavid had four in a 3-2 Toronto overtime win. Just 28 days later, the two met again, and they were more involved this time around. Matthews scored a first-period goal, while McDavid netted a third-period tally in a 4-2 Maple Leafs’ win.

In 2017, the two matchups came less than two weeks apart, with the first on Nov. 30. McDavid scored a goal in the second period, but once again, it was Matthews (who opened the scoring and added an assist) and the Maple Leafs that came out on top, winning 6-4. Matthews didn’t play when the two teams met again on Dec. 10, resulting in a 1-0 Toronto win.

A Quiet Stretch (2018-19 & 2019-20)

The two games between Toronto and Edmonton came much later during the 2018-19 season. Both McDavid and Matthews registered an assist in a 6-2 Leafs’ win on Feb. 27, 2019. McDavid had two more assists in the meeting on March 9, but his team again fell short, losing 3-2.

Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

McDavid was kept quiet on Dec. 14, 2019, as he tallied just one shot in a 4-1 loss while Matthews posted five. He finally triumphed over a Matthews-led Leafs on Jan. 6, 2020, as his four points (three assists and one goal) helped propel the Oilers to a 6-4 win, while Toronto’s superstar only notched one goal.

The COVID Chaos (2020-21 & 2021-22)

Due to the pandemic-adjusted divisions and schedule, these two Canadian teams played nine times last season. Six of those featured both McDavid and Matthews, as the Toronto center scored a goal and his counterpart had an assist in a 3-1 Oilers’ win on Jan. 20, 2021.

Although McDavid notched two assists, Matthews provided the game-winning goal in a 4-3 Toronto victory the following week. Two days later, McDavid got the last laugh, scoring the game-winning goal (his second of the night to go along with an assist) to lift the Oilers over Matthews (who also scored) and the Maple Leafs, 4-3. Toronto pummeled Edmonton, 6-1, on March 3, although Matthews didn’t get on the scoreboard despite registering seven shots (McDavid only had one).

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson)

On March 27, both stars tallied multiple points. McDavid had two assists while Matthews had an assist and the game-winning overtime goal in a 4-3 Toronto victory. Two days later, Matthews scored again, although it was McDavid who provided the primary assist on the overtime-winning goal.

These two superstars have faced off only once this season, as Matthews scored two goals in the 5-1 Toronto win (McDavid registered two shots). Wednesday night’s meeting in Toronto is the last between the two teams during the 2021-22 campaign. Unless these teams meet in the Stanley Cup Final, we will have to wait until next season to see the two icons face off again.

Rossi & Boldy Get Wild

The Minnesota Wild are slumping, having lost five in a row to fall from the top spot in the Central Division. But help is on the way! Still firmly in the mix with the St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators, and Colorado Avalanche for divisional supremacy, the Wild are set to welcome top prospects Marco Rossi and Matthew Boldy into the fold—possibly as early as Thursday. Let’s look at what it means for all involved:

What it Means for Marco Rossi

Former Ottawa 67 Marco Rossi (Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

On the one hand, arriving in the NHL should only be the tip of the iceberg for the ninth-overall pick of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. But while Minnesota is hoping that’s still the case, it’s already been an incredible journey for the Austrian center. Rossi’s first NHL training camp abruptly ended when he was diagnosed with myocarditis, a heart condition that emerged out of complications due to COVID. After being waylaid by this condition that could’ve cost him his life, the one-time OHL leading scorer has a new lease on life, having made it back.

What it Means for Matthew Boldy

Matthew Boldy, Minnesota Wild, 2019 NHL Draft (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Assuming Boldy does debut on Thursday night, he should have plenty of supporters on hand. Boldy grew up in Millis, Massachusetts, a small town about 40 minutes southwest of Boston, and played at Boston College before turning pro. For the 2019 12th-overall pick, surely it’ll be surreal debuting at the TD Garden in front of family and friends against the team he rooted for as a kid.

What it Means for Minnesota

In a cap-controlled league where young talent reigns supreme, the only asset greater than one blue-chip, NHL-ready prospect is two. Rossi and Boldy offer long-term hope as two more foundational pieces to add to the Wild’s Kirill Kaprizov-led core. More pressingly, however, is that they could prove to be an intriguing X-factor down the stretch in the Central Division race.

NHL Standings

NHL’s Leading Scorers

Today’s NHL Schedule