“To have this in Canada like this, with the best goal-scorer and the most electrifying player in the league going at it nine times, this is special,” Button said, “and there’s a real possibility for Edmonton and Toronto to play in the playoffs.”
Similar to Crosby and Ovechkin, who broke into the league in 2005-06, McDavid and Matthews, the No. 1 draft picks in 2015 and 2016, are giving fans the luxury of watching them develop at the same time.
In the N.H.L.’s scoring race, McDavid is No. 1 and Matthews No. 3. In the goals race, Matthews is No. 1 and McDavid No. 2.
Injuries, of course, are the great unknown, and there is some concern going into the three-game series that their competition may be put on hold due to a wrist injury that Matthews aggravated against the Calgary Flames on Wednesday.
Matthews, who missed a game earlier this season against Edmonton with an injury, did not practice on Friday and is listed as a game-time decision Saturday. Matthews has been dealing with the injury “virtually all season,” his coach, Sheldon Keefe, said. Even still, Matthews contributed two assists in the 2-1 overtime victory over Calgary.
Toronto fans have been waiting a long time for a talent like Matthews. The last Maple Leaf to lead the league in goals was Gaye Stewart in 1945-46, and the last Maple Leaf to lead the N.H.L. in scoring was Gordie Drillon in 1937-38.
“He’s picking goalies apart,” William Nylander, a Maple Leafs wing, said of Matthews. “And he’s doing it consistently.”