McDavid's dazzling year puts him in elite company
Connor McDavid does everything fast.
On a record-setting Saturday night, it was fitting that the NHL's presumptive most valuable player this season opened the scoring in the game's first minute, and just kept rolling as he led his Edmonton Oilers to a 4-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Place in Edmonton.
The Canucks seemed a bit stunned by McDavid's opening salvo and struggled to keep up with the pace of play in the first period, but were far better in the second period, scoring three times.
The problem for the visitors was that even as you push hard yourself, McDavid is inevitably pushing harder. And this season more than ever.
He picked up assists on the Oilers' other three goals, giving him 100 points on the season in just 53 games. The last time NHL players scored that many points in such a short span was 1995-96 when Mario Lemieux tallied 100 points in just 38 games (the second time in three years he'd managed that) and Lemieux's winger Jaromir Jagr tallied 100 in 52 games.
When Wayne Gretzky was terrorizing the Smythe Division for the Oilers and Los Angeles Kings, the joke always was that he waited to play the Canucks to set all his records, so it was fitting McDavid, the Great One's heir in Edmonton, achieved his feat against Vancouver.
McDavid, by the way, has scored 1.41 points per game over his career, which is fourth-best all-time, behind Gretzky, Lemieux and Mike Bossy and ahead of Bobby Orr.
On top of the opener scored by McDavid, the Oilers got a pair of goals from Leon Draisaitl and a single from Jesse Puljujarvi. J.T. Miller, Travis Boyd and Tyler Graovac scored for the Canucks.
Here's what we learned...
A CONSISTENT YEAR
Brock Boeser came into Saturday's game with goals in three straight games. He'd gone four games pointless before this recent stretch, but even if he wasn't hitting the score sheet, he was getting chances.
The fourth-year player is going to finish the season as the team's leading scorer.
Given his hot streak, and his accomplished season, it was something of a surprise that he couldn't bury an early second-period chance. He was all alone in the slot and got plenty of mustard on his shot, but Mike Smith blockered the shot away.
Asked pre-game about Boeser's consistency and work ethic this year, Green nodded and said that Boeser and his coaches had talked often about honing all aspects of his game.
“It's not just about points in scoring, it's about the willingness to get to certain areas. And I think he's learned to keep his body in a place where he can play quick. The game is speeding up and you've got to play quick in all areas of the game,” Green said.
His chance did prove to be a trend, as Miller scored a goal on a breakaway, Boyd scored while sitting wide open to the left of the Oilers goal, and Graovac scored on a quick shot from the top of the slot on a rush.
SURELY THIS IS THE END
Zack MacEwen's one-game suspension opened the door for Loui Eriksson to return to the lineup.
That was until it was revealed that Marc Michaelis had recovered from whatever upper-body injury he was suffering from. And it was Michaelis, not the more veteran Eriksson, who drew into the lineup.
It's been a difficult first professional season for Michaelis, who was signed last year after a strong collegiate career at Mankato State.
He started the year on the taxi squad; and when he has played, he's struggled.
That he was picked over Eriksson was the true statement about how this team feels about Eriksson's future. He has one more year left on his contract, which has proven to be a dud.
He is due a $3-million signing bonus this year and you wonder if he might just hang up his skates once the money is in the bank. This season can't have been fun, and surely he'll be facing a year in Abbotsford next year.
Is that worth $1 million?