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McDavid and Draisaitl seek continued production against Ducks

The two combined for 15 points versus Anaheim during the regular season

by Paul Gazzola /

Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl didn't need the duck-calling expertise of fellow Oiler Eric Gryba to become the Anaheim Duck hunters they seemingly are.

In five games against their Pacific Division rivals this season, the young Oilers combined for 15 points. Draisaitl played trigger man, rifling six goals - two of which were game-winners - and two assists. McDavid, meanwhile, took form as the playmaker with a pair of goals and five helpers.

The duo wasn't always piling up the points and chasing the heavy, veteran Ducks, though. There was a period of pensiveness they first endured against their Round 2 foe.

"We played each other hard all year," said McDavid. "We had a little bit of success and we had games where we weren't very good against them as well."

Much is always made of McDavid going up against one of the best two-way centres in the National Hockey League in Ryan Kesler. The pestering centreman - who can frustrate opposing players with his stingy checking on one end of the ice and goal scoring on the other - aced his assignment of covering the Oilers captain early on. McDavid was held pointless in the first two meetings of the season, while Draisaitl was limited to a pedestrian pair of assists.

But the Ducks couldn't escape the Oilers offensive prowess all season.

McDavid was able to stalk out the nature of his opponent as the campaign continued, registering six points in their final two meetings and eventually tying the Ducks for first place in the Pacific Division after an epic extra frame finisher by Draisaitl on April 1, which the 20-year-old assisted on.

"It's like a pitcher going through the leagues in the majors," said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan. "You got to go through and figure out some of the hitters, what their tendencies are, timing."

McDavid said as much upon his own assessment without the baseball comparison.

"It's just trying to figure out the matchup and all that," he said. "It's certainly a good defensive team and they've been that way for a lot of years."

As for Draisaitl, McDavid believes the German's big presence and heavy play is the reason why he's been able to clip the Ducks on several occasions. McLellan's assertion, this time, was less analytical.

"Sometimes the puck goes in or you create an opportunity in a certain area of the ice against a certain team and it happens for you," said McLellan. "I don't see Leon changing his game dramatically. He feels good and things have gone his way.

"We'd like that to continue."

And it will likely have to continue if Edmonton wants to prolong the invigorating run they're on that has the city feeling like 2006.

As much as Draisaitl and McDavid deserve credit, Patrick Maroon has been the third poacher on that line with the five assists he compiled against his former team. Whether he's contributing alongside Draisaitl and McDavid or not this series, he knows how the two skaters have been able to produce.

"Just finding those little holes and getting open for yourself and creating offence for yourself, I think that's what elite players do," Maroon said. "Him (McDavid) and Leon do a really good job of that. They're playing against the best defensive line in all the NHL in (Jakob) Silfverberg, (Andrew) Cogliano and Kesler.

"They've been finding ways to do it in the regular season and I certainly think they'll find ways to do it in the playoffs too."

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