MCDAVID’S MAGIC TOUCH CARRIED OILERS TO VICTORY
Team captain clearly motivated to be both an inspiration and leader in these playoffs
Gretzky and goaltending. That used to be the formula.
Mcdavid and netminding. Works just as well.
Yes, there’s all sorts of other pieces and parts at play. You need most of them going most games to win a Stanley Cup playoff series. But if you’ve got the two prime components, Connor Mcdavid and goaltending, you have a chance to beat anybody in a playoff game.
And that was about as big of a game as you could manufacture as a test for today’s Mcdavid-leon Draisaitl era Edmonton Oilers here Monday. A loss and hub host Edmonton would have had to become only the second team in the history of NHL bestof-five playoff series teams to go down 2-0 and come back to win the series. Fifty-five of the first 56 to try that have failed.
Mcdavid was magic as he scored two gorgeous goals early and registered his first playoff hat trick in leading the Oilers to a 6-3 win over Chicago to tie the series 1-1. Ryan Nugent-hopkins made some Oilers playoff history, becoming the first player to open a playoff series with consecutive three-point games.
Mcdavid’s second of the night as he danced down the ice somehow controlling a bouncing puck, was a definite entry as one of his greatest goals ever.
Mcdavid has been an absolute study since the Oilers returned to play, clearly motivated to be all he can be as an inspiration and a leader. It’s like the 23-year-old has decided this is the perfect time and place to prove his greatness beyond a shadow of a doubt.
I have no idea if he walked across the pedway from the
J.W. Marriott to Rogers Place on Monday during the thunderstorm that preceded the game thinking about a tweet produced by a respected longtime American hockey writer earlier in the day. But that tweet is the kind of thing most greats of the game have to endure until they win a championship.
Maybe it was the 14 days of quarantine upon arrival but when he emerged, Denver hockey writer Adrian Dater immediately went to Game 1 of the Blackhawks-oilers series and was inspired to tweet the following:
“Regretting my Oilers pick over Chicago. Connor Mcdavid is a brilliant talent but a personality-deficient guy. I think his blandness rubs off too much on his teammates. Happy to hear opinions to the contrary but fact is he doesn’t inspire others.”
Mcdavid’s responses came at 0:19 and 4:05 of the first period to give the Oilers a 2-0 lead and again at 17:10 of the second after the Blackhawks tied it up 3-3.
Mcdavid gave the Oilers the goals while the team fought to find the components in terms of winning their share of the battles and little races to the puck that they hadn’t managed to win in their no-show 6-4 loss in the series opener Saturday.
Most of them succeeded.
After saying the Oilers were “embarrassed” by their effort in Game 1, Tyler Ennis was invited to the zoom media interview room to sit beside Mcdavid after Monday’s game.
“Connor led the way, especially early. He set the tone for us and gave us the spark, which was exactly what we needed, and everybody followed,” Ennis said.
Coach Dave Tippett marvelled at how Mcdavid grabbed the game by the throat.
“Those first two goals were very strong goals that sent a very strong message to our team that he’s here to play, but I liked the way our whole team responded,” Tippett said.
It was interesting that goaltender Mikko Koskinen was not one of the four players invited to the post-game media availability. And there wasn’t one question about his performance directed at his teammates or his coach.
Koskinen kept the Oilers level or leading in the game from start to finish. He didn’t give up that ridiculously soft goal early that seems to take the air out of this team.
It most certainly did when Mike Smith turned the puck over and allowed an early goal to be scored off his back from behind the net in Game 1.
Koskinen played a steady, solid game as he stopped 23 of 26 shots after stopping 18 of 19 shots in relief of Smith in Game 1.
To beat the Blackhawks in this series, steady goaltending behind a hungry hockey team willing to engage in all those little battles will be key.
Edmonton’s Connor Mcdavid had his first NHL playoff hat trick against the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday at Rogers Place as the Oilers won the game 6-3 and tied the best-of-five series 1-1.