WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Thursday night's game between the Edmonton Oilers and the Winnipeg Jets is shaping up as a modern-day battle of McDavid vs. Laine.
Rather than slingshots, the two budding superstars will be armed with speed (Oilers captain Connor) and pinpoint shooting accuracy (Jets sniper Patrik).
With McDavid leading the NHL points race with 31 and Laine among the goal-scoring leaders -- and tops among rookies with 13 markers -- plus their offensive-minded supporting casts, this game could very well turn into a track meet.
In many ways, the rosters featuring forwards Mark Scheifele, Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler on the Jets and Jordan Eberle, Milan Lucic and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in Oilers colors are reminiscent of the Wayne Gretzky-led Oilers and Dale Hawerchuk's Jets in the 1980s.
That's great for fans, probably not so much for the nerves of Jets coach Paul Maurice and his Oilers counterpart, Todd McLellan.
Maurice is relieved, however, that he will have Marko Dano at his disposal, only 48 hours after the Slovakian winger took a high stick to the face from Kyle Quincey of the New Jersey Devils in the first period of the Jets 3-2 victory Tuesday night at the MTS Centre.
Dano suffered a gash to his nose that required a half-dozen stitches and a cut just below his right eye on the play -- neither of the referees noticed the infraction so Quincey wasn't penalized -- and missed the rest of the game while team officials tried to control the swelling.
"He's doing really well," Maurice told the Winnipeg Sun. "He'll have another appointment (Wednesday night) just to make sure that nothing has changed from the first look at it. If he's cleared and the swelling subsides -- we believe it will -- then he'll be available to play."
The Oilers come to town having dropped a 4-2 decision at home to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday.
McLellan hopes Nugent-Hopkins, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 amateur draft, can up his offensive production to take some of the pressure off McDavid, who was selected first overall in 2015.
"I think Nuge checks first and commits to doing that well. At the beginning of the year he was phenomenal in that area with some tough matchups," McLellan told the Edmonton Journal.
"We may be talking about a different night (Tuesday) if Nuge rings one off the inside rather than the outside of the post. But no doubt, he's one of those players who has to pick up his socks and give us better performances."
After suffering through a rash of injuries that had many people referring to the Jets as the Winnipeg Moose because of the more than half-dozen call-ups from their Manitoba Moose farm team, Maurice is happy to be receiving good news from sick bay.
Not only did Little return Tuesday after missing all but four shifts this season after suffering a lower body injury during the home opener, but defenseman Toby Enstrom returned to the team after travelling home to Sweden to deal with a personal family matter.