McDavid’s Aggression

Connor McDavid has all the tools. He has the brains to think
the game at the highest level. He has the hands to make plays with the puck
that even the world’s elite marvel at. He has wheels reminiscent of a young
Pavel Bure. And he has the vision to find his teammates and see plays that are
difficult to spot from a bird’s eye view of the ice. However, what ties it all
together to make him the most dangerous player on the ice is his
aggressiveness. It’s not enough that he just has these gifts. His genius is in
the way he challenges the opposing skaters to keep up to him.

You need only to have watched the last game to be reminded
of the fact that Connor McDavid against five skaters is already hilariously unfair
for the opposition. His goal – the goal – was a blend of unnatural speed,
hands, vision, and aggressiveness that makes McDavid dangerously unpredictable
in the best possible sense of the phrase.

Perhaps what makes McDavid so dangerous is his
aggressiveness, not with his physical play like Kassian or Hendricks, but the
aggressiveness with which he attacks the defense. Because his skill level is so
incredibly high and his feet never out-pace his hands or his mind, McDavid can
challenge NHL defensemen in ways maybe only two or three other people in the
world can.

We know that McDavid can make those critical plays with no
time and space while he’s at top speed. He knows he can make those plays. He
also knows most people cannot. So when he attacks the Blue Jackets’ defense by
moving to the inside, what he’s really doing is throwing down the challenge to
Justin Falk and Jack Johnson. He has all the confidence in the world and knows
that there is better than a 50/50 chance that if he forces the defense to make
a play they will come up short against him.

In this case, McDavid starts his assault with that wicked
speed starting in his own zone. Eberle gets the puck up and over to Pouliot but
he’s a little flat-footed. McDavid is behind the pass by a split-second but in
the blink of an eye he’s got the puck and is heading towards the space between
Johnson and Falk. Johnson attempts to stick his hip out but McDavid is so fast
he walks around him before contact is made. Meanwhile, he’s regained control of
the puck and pulled it back towards him which apparently melts Falk’s brain and
leaves him sliding on the ice neatly out of the play. Now he’s all alone with
the puck.

That’s when he’s playing 5v5 hockey.

So when the opposition is down a man that aggressiveness
just ramps up. We’ve seen him draw defenders towards him. We’ve seen him use
that incredible speed to break through the blue line. We’ve seen him
relentlessly hound the puck as he did last night as well.

The rookie centre gets the puck and again makes a move that
challenges his target to make play even better than the one he is about to
make. In this case he attempts to take the puck around the goaltender and he’s
up to the task. But the rest of the defense is frozen in place, static, while
McDavid continues his dynamic and relentless attack. McDavid hasn’t given up on
the play even after his initial move is thwarted. He gets the puck back and
keeps the play moving around a Blue Jackets team that is watching a trainwreck
happen in slow-motion.

While the goalie is out of the play, having made one quality
athletic stop already, the defense can only pray the ref will blow the whistle.
He doesn’t. Instead, McDavid gets the puck back while he’s getting up from a
prone position and keeps the play moving towards Eberle and away from the
penalty-killers.

Goal.

McDavid is a scoring chance machine. That applies to all
game states. In his 14 games we’ve witnessed his ability to make the power play
deadly as well as his ability to find space at even-strength. He’s so gifted in
so many aspects of play but it’s the willingness he has to throw down the
gauntlet to seasoned NHL veterans, just 14 games into his own career, that
makes Connor McDavid the electrifying and terrifying player he is today.

  • The Soup Fascist

    Really happy to see Connor back. Unfortunately, as an expat who used to be able to watch the games on Gamecenter, I am unable to watch the games now due to a massively epic fail by nhl.com. Their customer service and general ineptitude is unbelievable. Paid 200$ and as of 3 days ago every game I try to watch is blacked out.

    Why they try to make these changes in mid-season and not the summer (when they can test it properly) is so stupid, it is hard to believe.

    Will we get a refund, a discount? Unfortunately they got me by the balls because I live overseas and don’t have any other options.

    Total fail and BS. Very frustrating. Hard to believe they the NHL treats loyal fans like this. My friend has nba.com and for a quarter of the price he gets wayyyyy better service.

    Total BS.

    • steam2watch.me

      Use that site. Always a good stream or two for every game, sometimes have to deal with getting the other teams announcers tho. In situations where gamecenter fails to provide the service you desire you’re forced into going with less legit means. (however streaming TV is not illegal… in Canada)

    • MorningOwl

      NHL gamecenter sucks a big fat one. They couldn’t give me proper service but just kept saying sorry instead of actually displaying it and giving me my money back. And they wonder why people watch ‘illegal’ versions online lol

  • .

    I’d say relentless (oppressively constant, incessant) more than aggressive (hostile, belligerent, bellicose, etc): he’s got no quit.

    And like so many great players he’s got this ability to slow down time for himself and his team mates.

    Worth noting from the last game, his FOW% was 57, significantly higher that his first 13 games (38) Letestu was 52 and Hendricks was 67–within their normal ranges).

    I wonder how much time in recovery McDavid was able to spend on addressing his one obvious weakness? If he keeps up the FOW% numbers I think that will just go to show how incredibly relentless the kid is right now.

    • ubermiguel

      I was thinking “tenacious”; very determined to do something.

      It’s only one game against a very poor team, but we blew them out as opposed to playing at their level and squeaking out a win like the Oilers so often have in the past.

      • .

        Tenacious works well. His play on the Eberle goal says a lot. Up 4-1 and lying flat on the ice while the puck is nearly in the grasp of the goalie who’s supported by a defensemen, McDavid says, “I want that puck” and he takes it. As a sheer expression of will, I was more impressed with this assist that I was with the 1-2 goal.

        Gretzky had a rule, there’s only one puck andI want it. I think McDavid may have a similar rule of his own.

        • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

          I my opinion that goal was just as amazing as the one before it. That play was over with 99% of NHL players as it sat there at the goaltenders side with the only player who could get it down on the ice. It blew my mind that he would not quit. Next time I feel like quitting on something I will punish myself by watching that goal ten times.

          • positivebrontefan

            That is some punishment, that’s like misbehaving at your buddies place so his hot Mom can give you a spanking.

            I agree though, that assist, was to me, just as impressive as the goal. That’s what showed his never give up on a play, don’t let your foot off the gas attitude. Too often in the last ten years we would get a “dreaded three goal lead,” as my father in-law calls it, only to get pushed to lose in overtime.
            As long as he’s on the ice that won’t happen.

          • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

            Yeah I though it would be a great way to improve my work ethic. Seriously though it will take time to find players that compliment him and can keep up with him. Hall’s line should both improve because of getting second line defense against them and because he will want to show that he belongs on a team with Connor. The whole team better work hard because it wont be long and free-agents will be calling us and taking hometown discounts just to play with the kid.