Stanley Cup 2022 knockout – Connor McDavid somehow took his game to another level

EDMONTON – Connor McDavid is putting on a master class in post-season performance and it’s motivating Edmonton Oilers to a greater height.

Take, for example, McDavid’s game in game 2 of Edmonton’s second round Stanley Cup playoffs series against The Calgary Flame. The Oilers are leading 3-1 after a disallowed goal, and McDavid just set up a follow-up for Leon Draisaitl which was also called back.

Discouraging? Not for McDavid. Soon after, the Edmonton captain took control and dangled through the Calgary defense to score a goal Jacob Markstrom.

Edmonton’s bench explodes. Oilers is back up and running. And Calgary won’t score again as Edmonton goes on to win 5-3 and even a best-of-seven series with a 1-1 scoreline.

McDavid doesn’t have much to say about his goal – “I’m just happy to contribute,” he said afterwards – but there’s no mistaking its impact, or McDavid’s impact in the playoffs. this.

And if McDavid doesn’t talk about his play, there are plenty of people around him willing to take on laziness.

“The way this guy is playing right now, it’s exceptional,” Oilers interim coach Jay Woodcroft said. “He’s pushing our team forward. Connor is the best hockey player in the world. He’s willing to pay the price to win. He wants to win. He’s got it.” influenced everyone in our organization with the desire to take his game to the next level.”

“I think he’s pushing his own limits, isn’t he? And that’s what exceptional players do,” forward Zach Hyman more. “He’s taken his game to another level, and that’s hard to do. But he’s leading our team in every respect. He’s doing it all. He’s a reason. so great for us to be here.”

“Here” for the Oilers currently leading their series against Calgary 2-1 after a Under 4-1 in game 3 on Sunday. McDavid had three points in that game, teeing up two out of Evander KaneThree goals and another by Hyman. But McDavid’s dominance extends beyond the scoreboard.

He can also get into your head.

“We let one guy defeat us tonight,” Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk said after losing Sunday. “Just get back to the drawing board and find a way to stop him. Pretty much, they have a half-time player and he’s playing great hockey right now and we have to find a way to stop that. “

With McDavid’s belated contributions, it would be like stopping a freight train:

  • He can easily hit the attack area with unparalleled speed.

  • He can perform under pressure to keep a play alive.

  • He fights defensively to create offense.

  • He’s been physically involved, throwing the second most throws (12) for Edmonton in this Battle of Alberta series, and has won the third most (33) across 10 playoffs.

The list can go on from there. McDavid has only gotten sharper since the Oilers opened their first series against Los Angeles Kingshit the brick wall Jonathan Quick until he can pull Edmonton through to win the seven-game streak.

McDavid leads the NHL school after the season in points (23), just as he did in the regular season (123). He’s a Hart Trophy finalist again this season. But it’s not those compliments that set him apart. And that’s not why Woodcroft was willing to put his superstar on the ice when Edmonton was defending a crucial lead under duress, as it was at the end of Game 2.

“What I see as a leader, when the game was on, they were getting ready to go into a shooting lane,” Woodcroft said. “When the keeper was pulled and we took a penalty, he was out there for a reason. He put his body on the line for us to win. And the kind of self-sacrifice. that’s what it took to win this time. year.”

The McDavid Effect by Numbers

One look at McDavid and he passed the eye test. His post-season stats make for an even bigger story.

In Sunday’s Game 3, McDavid became the first player in Stanley Cup knockout history with nine multipoint competitions through his first 10 games.

The exception had a pointless night in Game 4 against LA (a game against Quick). Since then, McDavid has scored multiple points in six consecutive competitions, marking the longest record since Evgeni Malkin achieved the same feat in 2009 (and eventually won Conn Smythe when Pittsburgh won the Cup). Only Wayne Gretzky (eight games in 1983), Darryl Sittler (seven games in 1977) and Tony Currie (seven games in 1981) did better.

The 23 points McDavid has accumulated are tied (with Boston’s Rick Middleton in 1983) for the fourth most in the first 10 playoffs, behind only Gretzky (29 in 1983 and 25 in 1985) and Mario Lemieux (25 in 1992).

All told, McDavid produced sparkling personal numbers, while skating alongside other top talent in Draisaitl and Kane. However, his numbers are only one piece of the puzzle.

“[What] it shows,” said the Oilers keeper Mike Smith“is when your best players play the best hockey of their careers in the knockout stages, your team has a really good chance of winning.”

And how.

According to Stathists data, the Oilers created 34 scoring opportunities (11.3 per game) against the Flames when McDavid was on the ice. Without him, Edmonton created just 17 goalscoring opportunities (5.7 per game) and allowed 42 scoring opportunities (14.0 per game).

He also leads all skaters in this sequence in expected goals per 60 minutes (5.52). Draisaitl is second, with 5.18. Kane is third, with 3.82.

Through the Oilers’ first 10 playoffs, Edmonton edged out 102-47 with McDavid on the ice, by a staggering +55 difference. By comparison, the Oilers had 62 chances to score without McDavid coming up and had 101 chances to score.

As a team, Edmonton produced 28 goals 5v5 in the post-season period; McDavid was out there for 17 (or 60.7%) of them.

With McDavid, the Oilers missed just 169 shots (16.9 per game) in these playoffs, compared with 376 (37.6 per game) when McDavid was on the bench.

It’s an incredible reflection of McDavid’s overall game and represents the sheer volume of how he’s made Edmonton better. He’s been widely recognized as the NHL’s best player, but McDavid hasn’t stopped reinventing, editing, and improving. It was the outstanding commitment that most impressed the teammates.

“He continues year after year, in every major situation, taking one step further and taking his game to another level,” Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins speak. “I think this playoffs he’s hitting physically, he uses his body to defend the ball and hit first. We consider it a group, and obviously he’ll play wherever he is. [that are] available and create something out of nothing in a lot of situations. But for our team, when he’s your captain and he’s doing it [other stuff]you want to follow that and you want to follow his example. “

‘Driven to be the best in the world’

Whenever McDavid touches the ball in Game 3, a roar breaks out at Rogers Place. The chants of “MVP” echoed steadily from the thousands of shirts bearing his name.

When McDavid put an open-air hit on the Flames insect Tkachuk in the first episode, a standing ovation. When McDavid’s Speed ​​Creates a Jamming Call Against Calgary Trevor Lewisan ear-piercing buzz.

That is the power that McDavid possesses. No words needed.

“Do I think Connor is doing anything special?” Woodcroft asked. “You don’t need me to tell you that.”

McDavid also won’t give many details about his excellence. Everything he says is best done on tape.

In that respect, what else can be said? McDavid is more than just a game changer. He’s a serial breaker. And he extended this to Edmonton as it enters Game 4 on Tuesday (9:30 ET, ESPN) with a chance to put Calgary on the brink of elimination.

It’s just going to be another day at the office for McDavid.

“Every aspect of Connor as a professional hockey player is entrepreneurial,” Woodcroft said. “He’s driven to be the best in the world. He’s driven to seek profit margins on a daily basis. In tough times or bad times in the game, what you’re seeing is a “Someone’s still maintaining his personality. In the way he plays, you’re going to see a boost or a willingness to do a little bit more. And I think that kind of effort and leadership is very contagious. lan. And I think it resonates with our players.”

With two more wins over Edmonton’s provincial rivals, he’ll do it on an even bigger stage.

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