Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel live up to the hype, even while they try to ignore it

ByJoe McDonald ESPN logo
Wednesday, December 7, 2016

What do you need to know about Tuesday night's big stories? Joe McDonald gives us his take on the biggest and best. This is where we say "Morning, Joe."

Worth the hype: At some point, theEdmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid and theBuffalo Sabres' Jack Eichel will realize the impact they have on the league, especially the rare times when the top two picks from the 2015 draft play against each other. They dislike all the hype, but maybe one day they'll accept it and actually become comfortable talking about each other. Eichel's standard line is it's "the Oilers against the Sabres for two points." The fact is, the entire hockey world pays attention when they face off, and that's good for the game. On Tuesday, it was only the second time they've played against each other, and the game did not disappoint. Eichel assisted on Rasmus Ristolainen's overtime goal to lead the Sabres to a 4-3 victory. McDavid had two assists for the Oilers. Buffalo improves to 5-2-2 in its last nine games, 3-1-1 since Eichel returned to the lineup after missing the first 21 games with a high-ankle sprain. He has three goals and two assists for five points.

Isles win NYC battle: The New York Islanders are 4-0-1 in their past five games after an impressive 4-2 win over the rival New York Rangers. After rumors started to swirl that coach Jack Capuano was on the hot seat, the Islanders have been playing as a confident group and a victory over one of the league's top teams proves it. Captain John Tavares, who scored only his seventh goal of the seasonTuesday, has had a frustrating season after leading the Islanders to a playoff series victory last spring. It could only get better for the boys from Brooklyn if they can get better goaltending on a consistent basis. For the Rangers, the injury bug continues to plague them. Rick Nash (groin) and Matt Puempel (concussion) both suffered injuries. The team is already without key playersMika Zibanejad (broken leg) and Pavel Buchnevich (back). Plus, goalie Henrik Lundqvist doesn't have Henrik Lundqvist-type numbers in the early going as the Rangers are 4-5-1 in their past nine games.

Simmonds is sizzling: Wayne Simmonds is a man on a mission. The Philadelphia Flyersforward scored twice en route to a 3-2 overtime win against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday. The Flyers have won six consecutive games. Simmonds has four goals in his last two games. It's evident that Philadelphia feeds off his production when he's playing strong in front of the opponent's net, which has been the case, especially with his eight power-play goals. Overall, he leads the Flyers in goals (15) and points (26) in 28 games. Goalie Steve Mason has been playing on his head, too. He made 42 saves, improving his record to 5-0-0 with a 1.74 goals-against average and a .947 save percentage during the team's winning streak. The Flyers are for real.

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