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Lace 'em up. Time for the Morning Skate.
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ALL PRAISE McEICHEL
Quick, let's rank the best personal rivalries in the NHL:
1. Alex Ovechkin vs. Sidney Crosby
2. Jack Eichel vs. Connor McDavid
3. Uh ...
4. Give me a second.
5. I'll get back to you.
Honestly, the NHL should aspire to be like the NBA in many ways. Both leagues occupy the third or fourth positions in the "Big 4" sports leagues. They appeal to different crowds, but both have plenty of personalities to bank on. But what the NBA has that the NHL lacks is individual battles that fans can sink their teeth into every other night (and even over the course of a season). LeBron vs. Kobe. Steph vs. Kevin Durant. Tim Duncan vs. Dirk.
Sure, there's a fundamental difference between the sports that keeps hockey from doing the same. If one individual on your hockey team is standing out head and shoulders from his teammates, your team probably isn't very good.
But look at how much mileage we've gotten out of Ovi vs. Sid over the years. There's no bitterness between the two at all, but every time they play each other or do something special to rise above the other, it's benefited the league as a whole. So the energy that McDavid and Eichel brought in their first game against each other on Tuesday was a terrific sign for the next decade or so.
If these two 18-year-olds can get fired up to outclass not only each other, but also everyone else on the ice when all eyes are on them, then that can only mean great things for the NHL's popularity down the road.
WHAT HAPPENED LAST NIGHT
- The best example of what I just talked about? McDavid scored 22 seconds into the game and Buffalo fans booed the hell out of him. That's great. Give us more of that, please.
- He even scored the overtime winner! Oilers fans are (justifiably) ecstatic this morning.
- Washington rebounded from a loss to Chicago to take down another of the NHL's best teams.
- Ottawa lost, but they still pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in NHL history.
- Shea Weber returned and helped the Predators demolish the Stars.
- What does it say about the Canucks that the Islanders sleepwalked to a victory?
- Well, at least Russia and Finland are reporting in. Three Capitals made the Russian team.
- Blackhawks rookie sensation Artemi Panarin also made Team Russia.
- Tuukka Rask leads the goaltenders for Team Finland. They'll need him; that roster is devoid of scoring talent.
- The Dallas Stars are a sinking ship.
- Someone threw a shoe on the ice after a Flyers hat trick. Weird.
- An open letter to Jonathan Drouin.
- P.K. Subban is cooler than you because he hung out with Snoop Dogg last night.