On Monday, Drew Doughty spoke about the team-wide effort needed to contain a player like Connor McDavid, whose speed and ability to make the top defensemen in the league look silly was on display in last week’s Edmonton’s win at Rogers Place, especially in the first period.
Noting that he also needs to play McDavid better one-on-one, he also called to attention the need to slow down one of the league’s preeminent superstars before he gains the attacking end.
“Yeah, you definitely need to slow him down in the neutral zone,” Doughty said yesterday. “Last game there were many times where he kind of got through the neutral zone with a lot of speed and then you have your D who are pulled back from the other forwards, so therefore you have no gap on him and when he’s got speed, you’re kind of like a deer in headlights. You kind of have to guess at what he’s going to do because he’s moving at such a high speed.”
Speaking with reporters on Tuesday, he again called to attention the need to maintain a healthy gap on the forward, a tactic that begins with the forwards’ play up-ice. Dustin Brown also spoke about that effort after the morning skate.
“You can get in his way, slow him down. If you can get in front of him early, in his path, it’s not an easy thing to do, but forwards can definitely help our D out,” Brown said. “If he’s coming full speed from inside his blue line with no obstruction it’s going to be tough for our D. … Nudge, push, just get a hook on him. Get in his way and make him go the long way. Make him change his route. All those little things can help.”
Brown noted that he didn’t think that officials watched McDavid closer than other players, and that penalties were the direct result of the player gaining his second gear, not being slowed down by neutral zone obstruction.
“His speed creates a lot of problems for a lot of players and as a result they take more penalties,” Brown said. “It’s pretty simple I think watching him play. … I think it’s more how fast he is with the puck because that’s the difference between a lot of players. There’s a lot of fast players in this league but they take a step, a gear down when they get the puck. His top speed is fast and when he gets the puck it maintains, right? And that’s unique.”
Dustin Brown, on what he’s noticed about playing at Rogers Place in Edmonton:
It’s a good atmosphere for a new building. Some of these new buildings you go into and it’s kind of – the atmosphere is better than some of the newer buildings I’ve been in, partly and probably because of the excitement around the team. The ice is good.
Brown, on whether there are any pristine ice surfaces remaining in the league:
It’s hard to say. I find like Arizona quite honestly has really good ice. I think it’s probably because they have no humidity.