4 things to watch in Capitals at Oilers

NBC Sports Washington

4 things to watch in Capitals at Oilers originally appeared on nbcsportswashington.com

The Caps take on the best player in hockey Thursday as they head to Edmonton to face Connor McDavid and the Oilers (9 p.m., NBC Sports Washington). Here are four things you need to watch.

1. Two of the best in the game square off

On Tuesday hockey fans were treated to Sidney Crosby vs. Connor McDavid. Crosby scored two goals including the overtime winner to lead Pittsburgh to the win. On Thursday it will be Alex Ovechkin's turn to show what he can do against the best player in hockey.

Yes, McDavid is the best player in hockey. The fact that anyone is still debating whether it is Auston Matthews or Sidney Crosby is insane. It's McDavid.

Edmonton has scored only 18 goals this season and McDavid has had a hand in 13 of them. He has had a brilliant start to the season.

Ovechkin, however, has been pretty darn good too.

Ovechkin also has 13 points, scored twice Monday against the Vancouver Canucks and is leading the league's top-ranked offense in goals with eight.

Both players are also arguably the best two offensive players in the game. McDavid has already won two Art Ross Trophies and has 221 points in the last 3 seasons which leads the NHL. Ovechkin, meanwhile, has an incredible seven Rocket Richard Trophies and has scored 90 goals in the last three seasons. That also leads the NHL.

2. Don't forget about Kuznetsov

This game will be billed as McDavid vs. Ovechkin because those are the two biggest names, but really a more accurate description would the center matchup of McDavid vs. Evgeny Kuznetsov.

Kuznetsov showed in the playoffs that he is not just a good player, but a great one. Ovechkin remains the dynamic goal-scorer, but Kuznetsov is making a very compelling case that he could be the team's best player. In fact, he may just be one of the top players in the NHL, but for some reason, he is not viewed that way outside of Washington.

A big game against the best player in hockey could change that perception for Kuznetsov. You can read more on what Thursday's game means for him here.

3. 601 and counting

Nicklas Backstrom hit a major career milestone on Monday. Sitting just two assists shy of 600, Backstrom had a three-assist night now giving him 601 for his career.

Here are some incredible numbers for you. Backstrom has recorded an assist on goals from 52 different players, though the lion's share has gone to a certain Russian winger. A whopping 234 of those 601 assists were to Ovechkin showing the incredible chemistry these two players have found over the years. Oshie is second with 49.

Backstrom now has points in four straight games and in seven of the eight games, the Caps have played this season. He is quietly one of the hottest players on the team which is a pretty good summation of his entire NHL career.

4. High-power plays

Despite the fact that Edmonton can't score, it seems to be doing pretty well with the extra man. The Oilers rank fifth in the NHL on the power play at 30.4-percent. The Caps, of course, are the top power play in the league at 38.7-percent.

Both teams would be wise to stay out of the penalty box, but if they don't those power plays are going to be a fun two minutes to watch.

 

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