While it’s early in the NHL season, the line of Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Jesse Puljujarvi are out to susbstantial lead as the best line in the league. With 22 points combined in three games, the Edmonton Oilers are also 3-0 on the season and looking pretty good in the NHL’s Pacific Division.
Not everything perfect for the Oilers, but that top line sure is close. While the team is often being outshot and making games closer than they need to be, they’re finding a way to pull out victories, having defeated the Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames and Ahaheim Ducks so far this year. Key to that success has been the play of McDavid, Draisaitl and Puljujarvi.
The two leading scorers in the NHL over the past two seasons have picked up right where they left off. McDavid already has a hat trick in one of the games and Draisaitl posted a four-point night on Tuesday with two goals and two assists. Meanwhile, Puljujarvi is taking a massive step forward with six points in three games and he’s in the NHL’s top ten for scoring.
The chemistry between McDavid and Draisaitl is obvious. It has been for years now. They love playing together and know where the other will be without having to think about it much. Their work on the power play is a beauty to behold. The realy win here is the play of Puljujarvi and how well he’s clicking as part of that trio. He’s fit in like a glove and is dogged on the forecheck, a force in front of the opposition’s net and has the size, speed and skill to finish off plays. It’s easy to see him taking a massive leap in his career development.
The Line Is Having Fun
While this a serious season for the Oilers — one in which they need to do more than just make the playoffs — it’s clear these three are enjoying themselves while getting the job done. The giggles and laughter during media scrums following their games suggests these players are comfortable and building chemistry. Draisaitl has talked about McDavid’s “fluffy” one-timer while Jesse and Leon joked about during a media scrum about how good the other is playing, while somewhat awkwardly complimenting one another while side by side.
Things are loose but important. The players are relaxed but professional. The line is magic, but it’s not alone.
The concern in Edmonton is that loading this top line hurts the others. So far, that’s not been the case. Zach Hyman is doing well drving a second line with Ryan Nugetn-Hopkins and Kailer Yamamoto (Yamamoto has struggled), and the third line of Zack Kassian, Derek Ryan and Warren Foegele has been productive as well.
The success of those other lines gives head coach Dave Tippett the freedom to roll that top line and the two best scorers in the league together. As long as he can do so, there’s no reason to assume they’ll give up their spots at the top of the NHL’s scoring leaderboard anytime soon.
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