Matthews praises Ovechkin’s scoring skill forward of Maple Leafs-Capitals showdown


TORONTO – No marvel the child from Arizona rocked the yellow laces similar to him.

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An impressionable, nine-year-old Auston Matthews was within the constructing that night time in Phoenix when Alex Ovechkin burst up-ice in opposition to the boy’s favorite group. When he curled, dragged, deked, spun, tumbled on his again, and scooped a blind, backhanded purpose that will go down as one of the indelible ones the game has ever seen:

“It looks like it’s simply automated for him, to be trustworthy,” Matthews mentioned Thursday morning, nonetheless marvelling at Ovechkin’s knack for lighting the lamp.

“Each season he is on the market, he simply scores targets. And he is aware of find out how to rating. And his shot’s in all probability the very best within the recreation. He is ready to sit in that spot numerous the time, and you understand it is coming, and you continue to cannot cease it.

“What he has been in a position to do yr after yr is clearly spectacular and only a testomony to his skill.”

As Ovechkin — nonetheless buzzing with 46 targets at age 36 — chases each his ninth 50-goal marketing campaign and Wayne Gretzky’s all-time profession report, Matthews is monitoring down one thing certainly one of his boyhood heroes has by no means completed.

Ovechkin’s best single-season purpose tally is 65, which he achieved with 82 video games performed in 2007-08.

Matthews enters Thursday’s head-to-head match with 58 and is pumping pucks previous goalies at a 66-goal tempo for 77 video games performed (supplied he fits up for all 9 of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ remaining video games).

Briefly: Matthews may cross Ovechkin for many targets scored in a single season this century.

“He’s the most well liked man within the league,” Washington defenceman John Carlson says. “The beauty of him is he scores targets from in all places, in each form of style, and he is a harmful risk regardless of the place he’s.”

Each are large athletes who arrange store on the power-play flank and haven’t any problem beating netminders from distance. Matthews’ pulled angle-switching wrist shot is his calling card; Ovechkin’s one-timer is a factor of nightmares.

But neither is a one-trick risk.

“They’re versatile. They’ll rating off the frenzy. They go to the entrance of the web and bang residence rebounds, suggestions, that kind of factor. They’ll beat guys one-on-one. Each have simply unbelievable pictures,” Carlson says.

Matthews, who can be gunning for his first 100-point season, has reaped reward for his defensive recreation and takeaway skill, whereas prime Ovechkin’s finest attribute with out the puck is perhaps his fearful physique checks.

“There’s variations of their recreation for certain, however the outcomes appear to be fairly related,” Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe says. “[Ovechkin] just isn’t exhibiting any indicators of slowing down.”

One other similarity? Their jubilant purpose celebrations.

Matthews could by no means experience his personal success with a “sizzling stick,” however his open-palmed wave for noise, his outstretched ‘Are you not entertained?!’ arms, and his highly effective fist pumps reveal his zest for scoring.

“He needs to create and generate. It reveals in the way in which he performs a recreation. You see his emotion when he scores. He likes to do what he does,” Peter Laviolette says. The Capitals coach is speaking about Ovechkin, however his reply applies to each superstars.

Matthews, now 24, nonetheless has a blast watching Ovechkin, with whom he’s struck up a pleasant acquaintanceship by means of league occasions.

“He is enjoyable to look at. And he is aggressive. He’s so passionate. You’ll be able to see that when he scores — how a lot he needs to attain, and the way a lot he needs to see different guys succeed and rating as effectively when he is on the market.

“Simply suppose watching him rising up, I feel that is one thing I attempted to adapt from him. Simply his hearth and fervour for scoring targets, for profitable. Simply competing on the market.”

Anticipate each generational goal-scorers to be sharpening their blades for Thursday’s showdown.

“Some nights, there’s only a greater market or a more difficult recreation,” Laviolette says. “Hopefully that brings out the very best not simply in Alex however in everyone.

“Huge-time moments are for big-time gamers, and Alex appears to do effectively in these conditions.”

Ditto for Matthews.

One-Timers: It was not misplaced on Laviolette that Keefe scratched the skilful Jason Spezza and Nick Abruzzese in favour of a extra rugged fourth line with Wayne Simmonds and Kyle Clifford…. Justin Holl will sit down, as Timothy Liljegren’s inventory developments upward in Toronto’s inner competitors for a top-six defence spot within the playoffs…. Rasmus Sandin (knee) continues to push his on-ice rehab. He pushed by means of half-hour of drills previous to morning skate…. The Leafs shall be celebrating Satisfaction Night time Thursday…. Jack Campbell versus Ilya Samsonov is the matchup in internet.

Projected lineup vs. Washington:











Campbell begins



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