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Flyers’ Huge Task: Containing Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl

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Connor McDavid, Scott Laughton, Philadelphia Flyers
The Flyers' Scott Laughton (left) tried to defend Edmonton's Connor McDavid in a game last season. The teams meet Thursday. Photo: AP.

Trying to contain Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl is like attempting to limit the Phillies’ powerful lineup.

Good luck with that.

The Philadelphia Flyers will have the former task Thursday when they face the two Edmonton Oilers superstars at the Wells Fargo Center at 7:30 p.m. (Hulu, ESPN+).

In 13 career games against the Flyers, the 26-year-old McDavid has 10 goals, 25 points, 53 shots on goal, and a plus-14 rating.

Yeah, that’s pretty good.

Draisaitl, who turns 28 next week, has also been superb against the Flyers, though not quite as dominating. In 13 games against Philadelphia, he has seven goals, 19 points, 30 shots, and a plus-8 rating.

The Oilers (1-2), expected to be strong Stanley Cup contenders, started the season with a pair of losses to Vancouver, the team the Flyers defeated, 2-0, on Tuesday. Edmonton rebounded Tuesday and won in Nashville, 6-1.

The Philadelphia Flyers are in a rebuild, but this is an early-season chance to show they can play with an NHL heavyweight.

Lethal power play

Staying out of the penalty box is always a key for the Flyers, but never is that more critical than against the Oilers, who are third in the NHL with a 36% success rate on the power play. The Flyers are just 1 for 13 (8%) on the power play, with the lone goal coming on a 5-on-3 advantage.

The Oilers have the NHL’s worst penalty kill (58%) after three games, while the Flyers have killed 75% (23rd).

Draisaitl leads the Oilers with seven points (3-4), and McDavid has five points (2-3). Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (six points) and Zach Hyman (five points) are also off to impressive starts.

The Flyers have gotten surprisingly good defense, especially at even-strength, in the first three games. They are allowing just 2.33 goals a game despite missing the injured Rasmus Ristolainen, one of their top defensemen.

Carter Hart (2-1 2.35 GAA, .922 save percentage)  figures to make his fourth straight start for the Flyers. In his career against his hometown team,  the Alberta native is 3-3 with a 3.02 goals-against average and a ,909 save percentage.

The 25-year-old Hart is coming off his sixth career shutout, Tuesday’s 2-0 win over Vancouver. The Flyers haven’t had consecutive shutouts since Michal Neuvirth did it in 2015, blanking Florida, 1-0, on Oct. 12, and Chicago, 3-0, on Oct. 14.

In franchise history, the Flyers are 38-35-9 against Edmonton, including a 27-13-2 record at home.

Breakaways

Travis Konecny leads the Flyers in goals (three) and points (five). … Owen Tippett, still looking for his first point of the young season, had a maintenance day and missed practice Wednesday but will play Thursday. …. Ristolainen said he feels close to being ready to play. He has more career points (14 in 17 games) against the Oilers than any player on the Flyers’ current roster. … Morgan Frost, the Flyers’ leading scorer over the last 55 games last season, is expected to return to the lineup after a one-game benching. “He needs to play better,” coach John Tortorella said. “I don’t want to debate the whole thing in public, but I will tell you this: Frosty didn’t play bad, but others have played better.” … Sean Couturier, who has a team-best plus-4 rating, needs three games to tie Jake Voracek for the 10th-most games played in the Flyers’ history.

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