NHL superstar McDavid praises Aleksander Barkov: “A real challenge” | Sport

NHL superstar McDavid praises Aleksander Barkov A real challenge

The NHL’s final series could not offer a more delicious setting in terms of gambling and the confrontation of individuals. When Florida, who reached the finals for the second year in a row, meets Edmonton, all eyes will turn to the battle between the number one centers.

Alexander Barkov against Connor McDavid.

Opposite are two very different generational talents and exceptional individuals. Earlier in the spring, Barkov was selected as the NHL’s best defensive forward for the second time in his career. McDavid is known as the most dynamic and dangerous offensive player of all time.

As always in Edmonton’s case, the opponent’s camp has been feverishly thinking about how to stop the Canadian star during the series.

– The whole week has been spent preparing and watching videos. It’s a good question how to control him. McDavid is an incredible player who will surely do incredible things even now, Barkov says at the media day of the finals in Sunrise, Florida.

– You just have to live with them and try to keep him out of the game, the Finnish captain adds.

The challenge is quite a challenge, because as incredible as it sounds, the Canadian star has scored points at a faster rate in the playoffs than in the regular season. McDavid’s average point per game in the playoffs is 1.58, while it is 1.52 in the regular season.

Only in the over one hundred year history of the NHL Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux have forged points in the playoffs at a tighter pace. Lemieux barely (1.61).

At least in Florida’s home games, the guarding of McDavid falls to Barkov through the last substitution right, but he alone cannot guard the slippery center forward. This is where Florida’s strength lies, as well by Sam Bennett runner up as well by Anton Lundell and Eetu Luostarinen three are really high-quality two-way chains.

– We’ve been quite good at playing off superstars before. We now want to play in the same way, space and time must be taken away. It also feels like any chain can play against us, Anton Lundell believes.

Barkov has done the trick before, and Florida isn’t at its first rodeo in this regard. Barkov overshadowed several of the NHL’s top chains in a really impressive way a year ago. The stars of Boston, Toronto and Carolina were left behind. This year the same fate befell Tampa, again Boston and most recently the New York Rangers.

Tampan Nikita Kucherov went 5-for-5 in five games without a goal against Barkov, Boston Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak to one man. Rangers Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider not even the first.

Only 1.94 goals per hour have been created against Barkov in the playoffs. The figure is the second lowest in the entire league for forwards who have played at least 250 minutes.

– It all depends on how tough an athlete he is off the ice as well. It can be seen on the ice, how he steals and protects the puck and makes it really difficult for the opponent to play, teammate Eetu Luostarinen states.

Luostarinen reminds us in the next moment that hockey is a team game.

– We have gone through their lineup and focused a little more on McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, but we won’t change our game for them. The game is played in exactly the same way as before. You have to play hard against them and get them frustrated.

Barkov is on the same lines, emphasizing that he will not face McDavid in the series, but the Edmonton Oilers. Stopping both of them can be done at the five level through things done with quality.

– We know how good players they have, but it shouldn’t change what we do in any way. We have come this far by doing our own things and that must continue, Barkov insists.

Barkov’s own things mentioned include a lot of things, one of which is active and aggressive play and finishing tackles whenever possible. At the same time, Florida’s self-discipline must be at a high level, because Edmonton’s 37% possession game shows no mercy.

Only the Rangers have taken more minor penalties than Florida this spring. On the other hand, the Panthers’ ice hockey average is only about three and a half per game. You couldn’t take more against Edmonton.

Of course, Florida has played an excellent underpowered game, destroying the ice they have taken with no less than 88 percent certainty. Also in this part of the game, the saber rattling of Barkov, who is known as an excellent underpowered player, and McDavid, who operates as a conductor of the superior game, will offer great entertainment.

“Playing against him is a real challenge”

Not Barkov by Sam Reinhart and Carter Verhaghen with in the rink still not only defending. Florida’s number one chain will test the defensive skills of McDavid’s chain with all its might. Although of the two, McDavid in particular is known for his special skills at the head of the attack, Barkov surprises with deep data.

Barkov has created 5-on-5 more personal goals than McDavid. The Finn has also recorded more dangerous personal goal chances. Still, McDavid has 14 power points more than the Finn.

McDavid is not surprised by anything about Barkov.

– He is an excellent player. He is a truly comprehensive 60-meter player who excels in the offensive zone, but is also the best when it comes to playing defense. Playing against him is a real challenge that I’m excited about, McDavid enthuses.

The final series starts early Sunday morning Finland time in Florida.

Stanley Cup Final Series match schedule

Sunday 9.6. at 3:00 a.m Florida Panthers–Edmonton Oilers

Tuesday 11.6. at 3:00 a.m Florida Panthers–Edmonton Oilers

Friday 14.6. at 3:00 a.m Edmonton Oilers–Florida Panthers

Sunday 16.6. at 3:00 a.m Edmonton Oilers–Florida Panthers

Wednesday 19.6. 3:00 Florida Panthers–Edmonton Oilers (if necessary)

Saturday 22.6. 3:00 Edmonton Oilers–Florida Panthers (if necessary)

Tuesday 25.6. 3:00 Florida Panthers–Edmonton Oilers (if necessary)

You are on Finnish time.