MONTREAL, QC -- Practice is one thing, but the real test for Team North America's new high-profile line will be a game.
For captain Connor McDavid, who's been matched with Johnny Gaudreau on the left wing and Jack Eichel on the right wing, that comes Sunday at Bell Centre in Montreal when Team North America plays Team Europe in the second World Cup of Hockey 2016 pre-tournament game for each team (4:00 PM MT; ESPN3, SN, TVA Sports).
Team North America coach Todd McLellan changed up his forward combinations after a 4-0 win against Team Europe in Quebec City on Thursday, creating a line that will include the first two picks of the 2015 NHL Draft, McDavid and Eichel, and Gaudreau, who finished tied for sixth in the NHL with 78 points in 2015-16.
"Obviously whenever you get a chance to play with good players, you get excited about it," Eichel said after the morning skate Sunday. "It's no different now for us.
"We've only been together for a few days now. I think it's been pretty good. It's tough to pick it up right away. I think the games are when you get it more. You just have to get used to players, their tendencies, where they like to be on the ice. It just doesn't happen overnight but I think if we're communicating with each other and working hard, the rest will take care of itself.
"It's one thing in practice when you're doing something; it's a lot different in the game. So I think we'll see tonight."
Eichel, 19, had one assist in the game Thursday, playing mostly with Gaudreau and Brandon Saad. He said that Gaudreau's ability is exceptional.
"A lot of skill, some creativity," Eichel said. "He makes a lot of plays and does a lot of things that other players can't. He's just a good player to play with."
Eichel also said that Team North America is expecting a better performance from Team Europe on Sunday.
"I imagine they're going to want to come out and play harder than they did," he said. "But I think the same can be said for us. As a group, we think we have a lot more to give and I don't think we even scratched the surface of our team potential. I mean, we played all right in the first 10-12 minutes but other than that, I don't think we were too happy with our game. I think there's a lot more as a group we can give and we all realize that, and we're excited we get another chance to do it tonight."