The former national team coach is no longer a Draisaitl fan for weeks | free press

Los Angjelos.

Whenever Marco Sturm talks about Leon Draisaitl, the former national ice hockey coach gets excited.

“I think Leon is not only a great player, but also a great guy. That’s why I’m a big fan of him as well,” said the Los Angeles Kings assistant coach of the German press agency. And then he pushes: “But this has been waiting for a few weeks now.”

Because the Kings are definitely qualified for the NHL play-offs – for the first time since Sturm switched from the German Ice Hockey Federation to the NHL after the 2018 Olympic sensation with silver in Pyeongchang – and will meet Draisaitl and Edmonton in the first round Oilers. .

Oilmen with domestic rights

It does not matter what happens in the remaining matches of the main round until Friday. The 5-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins placed the Oilers second in the Pacific Division and secured the home advantage in the first round of the play-offs. The Kings were able to hold hands and watch from the hotel in Seattle as Vegas Golden Knights fans lost to the Dallas Stars on a penalty kick and fell third in the table. Oilers’s duel with the Kings, Germany’s best ice hockey professional with his predecessor as the German record scorer in the NHL, already on the opposing coach’s bench, is perfect. Starts next week.

“The goal is to win the Stanley Cup. We are happy to be in it. The first step has been taken,” Draisaitl said shortly after qualifying at the weekend. It’s the title he’s missing in North America, the one that pushes him and means more to him than any award for his outstanding performance as a player. He was already the MVP, the first German and the top scorer in the league. The player from Cologne has already broken the figure of 100 points this season. Only in the playoff did it not work at all with the Oilmen. The traditional Canadian team never made it to the second round in its time.

Storm with respect to the Oilers duo

“Leon is only 26 years old – if you have not won a Stanley Cup by then, that’s also okay. It would be worse if he were 33 or 34. Leon will make his way, either to Edmonton or “Elsewhere,” says the 43-year-old storm. “There is still a long way to go. He is getting better and better. I do not think he has reached the end of his potential. “I hope it will not be this year, but next year.”

The biggest challenge for the Kings in a maximum of seven games is not only to keep Draisaitl under control, but also his teammate Connor McDavid. “They have one, if not the two best players in the world on their team. It will not be that easy,” says Sturm. McDavid is currently the top scorer in the league, Draisaitl is fourth. “But we have always played well against the Edmonton Oilers and we know them very well. We have respect, especially for them, but we are not afraid.”

However, it is especially important to avoid larger numbers versus Oilers. This is when Draisaitl and McDavid, who otherwise run on different offensive lines, stand together on the ice. “It will be very, very important for us not to allow ourselves any heavy penalties,” says Sturm. In particular, Draisaitl would be even more dangerous. “He’s just better in the head than almost all the other players,” Sturm explains. “We know what his strengths are. But even if we know that, he always manages to score a goal or give an assist. That’s what makes him so special.” (dpa)

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