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Photo Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

GDB 77.0: The McDavid Show (7pm MST, SNW)

Edmonton Oilers fans haven’t had much to cheer for over the past 12 seasons, and another year without the playoffs is only adding to your misery. But since February 1st, Connor McDavid has made every Oilers game a must-watch.

McDavid has 24 goals and 45 points in 27 games since February 1st. He has been involved in 53.6% of the Oilers offence (45 of 86 goals) and has outscored every player in the NHL by ten points, except Evgeni Malkin (37 points) in the past seven weeks.

The first overall pick in 2015 has taken his game to another level recently, and his quest for back-to-back 100-point seasons and consecutive Art Ross trophies is the main storyline for the Oilers final six games.

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McDavid could join a very select club if he maintains his position atop the NHL’s leader board, and he has been very honest about how much a scoring title means to him. Of course it does, as it should, and while he would much rather finish fifth in league scoring and make the playoffs, his focus down the stretch has been to play his best every night.

At times we forget how young he is. He turned 21 in January. Tonight is only his 204th NHL game, and as he said last week to me, “I’m still learning new ways to attack and how to become more effective.” That type of response makes you wonder where his game will be in two or three years.

Is a 130-point season possible? The last time a player surpassed 130 points was in 1996, when Mario Lemieux had 161 and his linemate Jaromir Jagr had 149. Prior to them, Wayne Gretzky scored 130 in 1994.

It is interesting to note Lemieux’s best season, 199 points, came when he was 23 year old. Jagr’s best, 149 points, also came when he was 23, while Steve Yzerman scored 155 when he was 23 and Wayne Gretzky had 208 when he was 23 (his best season, 215 points, occurred the next season when he was 24).

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When you look at some of the elite of elite scorers in the NHL, many of them had their best seasons after five or six years of NHL experience. I’m intrigued to see what McDavid can do before 2022.

Until then, enjoy what he is doing now, and if he keeps up his 1.66 points-per-game pace (over the past 27 games) in the Oilers final six games, he will finish the season with 109 points. Not bad.

RELATED ARTICLE:
Throwback Thursday: 11 years ago today, Edmonton Oilers sign Mike Comrie

LINEUP…

Oilers

Nugent-Hopkins-McDavid-Rattie
Caggiula-Draisaitl-Aberg
Lucic-Strome-Puljujarvi
Slepyshev-Khaira-Kassian

Nurse-Larsson
Russell-Bear
Sekera-Benning

Talbot

Zack Kassian returns in place of Iiro Pakarinen. Drake Caggiula will play after taking a puck in the eye on Sunday. It was a freak thing. He was battling in front of the net and got pushed, and when he bent over the puck squeezed through the space between the top of his visor and bottom of his helmet and hit him square on the bone above his left eye. “Been a tough year eating pucks,” joked Caggiula. He took a puck to the face earlier this season and lost three teeth.

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Adam Larsson is the Oilers nominee for the Bill Masterton Trophy, awarded annually to the NHL player who “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.” It has been a challenging season for Larsson on and off the ice, but mainly off of it after the sudden passing of his father Robert.

“Whenever you get recognized for something on or off the ice it is nice, but under these circumstances it is probably not what I’d wish it was, but it is still an honour,” Larsson told me this morning.

The Oilers will start the game rolling their top three lines on the powerplay with two D-men. The PP was dreadful on their first two opportunities on Sunday and after that head coach Todd McLellan just rolled out his lines with two defencemen. Ty Rattie scored moments after the PP expired in the second period, and then Ethan Bear scored a third period powerplay goal using the 3F/2D combination.

“We need to learn how to work on the powerplay again. We get a little too cute, too fancy, and that is all fine and dandy when you are in the top three or four in the league (on the PP) and you are trying different things, but when you are where you need to be prepared to work on the powerplay.

“The players responded well in the second and third period, when we went with three lines. There is no given, there is no jump over the boards just because you are a certain player. The groups will go out and we’ll see what they can do when they work,” said McLellan.

RELATED ARTICLE:
Edmonton Oilers loan defenceman Evan Bouchard to Allsvenskan

Blue Jackets

Panarin-Dubois-Atkinson
Jenner-Wenneberg-Vanek
Milano-Dubinsky-Bjorkstrand
Hannikainen-Letestu-Calvert

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Werenski-Jones
Cole-Savard
Murray-Nutivaara

Bobrovsky

Brandon Dubinsky doesn’t have a point since February 13th. He was a healthy scratch for two games last week and the Blue Jackets are hoping he can find his game. “The biggest thing Duby (Dubinsky) bring to this team is his will,” said head coach John Tortorella.

“An injury to an eye or a hand that shouldn’t impact, right now, the will that he can bring to us. I have stated all along that Duby, like most players, makes a lot of mistakes on the ice, but he makes up for it with his drive, personality and will. That is what he needs to find again. I think he has been knocked around a bit. He has lost his confidence. He has had some struggles all through the year. I called him Sunday, two days before we practiced last week and said here is a great opportunity to flush the other s*&t down and just concentrate on this small window of games to try and help us get in (the playoffs). He had a great attitude. He is looking forward to the opportunity and we need him to rediscover the bite in his game,” continued Tortorella.

Sounds eerily similar to the plight of Milan Lucic.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers upset the Blue Jackets 4-3 in OT.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: McDavid reaches 100 points for the second consecutive season.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Aberg scores again. He had two goals and eight points in 37 games for the Predators. He had 2-6-8 in 12 games with the Oilers prior to scoring his third goal with the Oilers tonight.

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Recently by Jason Gregor:


Source: Jason Gregor, Verified Twitter Account, 3/27/2018 – 1:15 pm MST


  • Natejax97

    What is a reasonable production level for a second line winger in the NHL? Is .66 pts per game okay?

    Because at that contract and the speed that Pontus adds to the lineup, and the instant chemistry he seems to be building with Draisaitl, I would say that is that production is the floor rather than the ceiling…

    I am a fan of this guy…he works like a honey badger!!

  • camdog

    It took 76 games for the coaches too realize the powerplay was playing too cute. Playing too cute for 76 games only happens when the coaches aren’t doing their jobs.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      It’s weird why you would get a downvote for the above comment?
      I personally think the Oil are winning lately because they all said, “frigg-it”, let’s just go out there and have fun & play like we know how. They are playing a different game. And they aren’t slow, just like last year. I think it was Friedman that started that “Oilers are Slow” thing & everyone clung to it? Couple of players, yes. Team as a whole, no. Friedman is a jerk.

      • Leo Tard

        Getting loose of Maroon and Letestu and adding Aberg makes the group much faster. Also by cutting Lucic minutes his lack of speed is not as noticeable. Something is definitely not right with this player.

      • Dan 1919

        Tonight’s Oilers have Rattie, Aberg & Caggiula in the top 6 with Lucic playing on the third and Maroon & Letestu both of the team. They are noticeably faster now than at the start of the year.

  • Oilertown

    Also Gregor I’ve been saying since last season or maybe even before Connor even started a game for oil that I believe he can be better then Gretz and he’ll be putting up 160 point seasons in the very near future. Your era adjusted stats for Gretz are kinda making it look like it could be possible or atleast as good at 140 point seasons.

    • Not McDavid's Fault

      I’d add bear to the minor list, getting big minutes in all situations down there. Instead of sheltered time up u like the kid but he need to learn to defend better if we want him to be a top 4 d instead of a 6 d powerplay specialists.

  • VK63

    “We need to learn how to work on the powerplay again.
    Coach Todd.

    Its the 77th game of the season. In case the observation….. no fn sh*t Einstein was…. ahhh f it. What’s the damn point with these buffoons. Take them out to the old yeller spot behind the barn and just do it already.

  • Natejax97

    Do you think the fans of Jersey, Florida, Tampa, Los Angeles, Winnipeg were as critical of their coaching staffs last year as the Oiler fans are this year? Just asking for a friend…

    Also, my friend was wondering if those opinions have changed this year?

    • Glencontrolurstik

      Absolutely they were (are depending on the team). As they rightfully should if they know, play & follow hockey.
      If you follow the game and strive to understand it, anyone can coach to themselves. It’s being able to convey thoughts, teach systems, interact & communicate with players & fans, differentiate strengths & weaknesses & work on improving both those areas. And above all, be accountable to the fan-base. All of these latter attributes would be a problem for the dedicated fan who understands the strategy of hockey. It appears that some coaches seem to lack some of these attributes as well?
      I think these fans are calling those coaches out on this? Nothing wrong with that?
      I’d rather be a fan in an intense hockey market than one of the “Beach Teams”? At least 98% of the population of Edmonton know what off-side or icing is?

      • Natejax97

        Glencontrolurstik I agree with your comments and I am in the intense hockey market lover myself. I will, however, wait until next year to pass judgement on our coach. Hopefully adjustments are made and next season starts more like this season is ending. Thanks for the feedback. It makes sense.

        • Glencontrolurstik

          Awesome, yes “there are many ways to skin a cat”. The wise option would be to see how they do next year, like you said. That’s being the most fair to the coaches.
          I just don’t think it was a lack of player skill that caused this tail-spin this year? As long as they act smartly & not reactive. I guess maybe having a back-up plan in place before the season starts makes sense? Cause the level of the teams is so close now, you don’t have much time to get it right before it’s too late.

    • Homer

      Since the sharks fired Tmac they’ve gone all the way to the Cup which eluded Todd while his team was in its prime. Was it coaching that got the oilers to within one game of round three last year or did we just catch lightning in a bottle? Loading up one line with all your skill is an old trick and leaves the rest of your lineup looking like AHL callups

      • Glencontrolurstik

        It wasn’t coaching. The players were having fun last year, learning to play together. This year they were more coached with systems & special teams strategies. Not playing so loose, if you will. Until now, where the players are having more of a say. You can see the whole style of play change.

        • TruthHurts98

          Because they’re time is almost up. And if Quennville is let go and there is any remote chance they can land him here, you bet TM and company are gone. They should be. And he’s going to have a tough time finding employment elsewhere. Pete DeBoer is on a different level too and it highlights how much better San Jose could have been. The special teams alone are reason for dismissal.

          • Glencontrolurstik

            As cool as that sounds, I think their are 2 reasons why that won’t probably happen?
            He’s way too expensive, plus they would still have to pay Tmac on top. Do you think Katz would do that? And really, do you think the Old Boy’s Club could deal with a “Hard Nosed Coach” like Quennville? I could see that combination being like Oil & Water, no pun intended.
            No one has mentioned Alain Vignault (sp)? Do you think the Rangers will keep him on?
            How about a straight contract trade? He has great offensive minded systems & historically successful. Both 5X5 and PP. And players love him. In pressers when the heat is on, he enjoys taking one for the team.
            That’s what these players need. Not someone always calling them out publicly.

  • What-a-Mike

    I am soooo looking forward to McDavid scoring his 40th goal and 100th point tonight…along with more points after this for him, Nuge and the Rat. Go win the Art Ross and Ted Lindsay Titles again at least Connor… you clearly deserve these and even the Hart!!!! BTW shouldn’t we now have a great cool Nickname Title Competition going on for McD now rather than the Davo one I’m hearing from the players lately? How about maybe Rocket or Cyclone or something even better? Not saying these are great ones but there has to be an justified awesome one out there for the best player in the world right now. That being said, I am sooo disappointed that McL is basically saying now that he is trying new PP attacks with regular playing line combos. Where was his curiosity for this type trial back in Nov, Dec, or Jan at least? There are very important times during a season to try new things when the season is on the line but not than when its all over in the last 5 to 8 games.

  • What-a-Mike

    I do want to add that McL has not been a good coach at all with the combos and favoritism to specific players when they do not deserve the ice time they got over others. Aside from the McNuge line, I do like the way Aberg is playing right now and how he plays (must keep this up and going always) with Draisaitl but Cagguila is a 4th liner at best. Next season Drai needs a new very good skating winger who can pass and shoot way better that Cagguila does inconsistently. I say keep Lucic on the 3rd line for now with less minutes and players he relates to better. Strome and PJ are looking better with chemistry but improvements from both still needed. To me, I like the idea of Kassian, Khaira, and Pakarinen being together as they can all hit, shoot and skate porettty darn good and each do have decent but improvable PK skills. The Oilers still need one very good other passing and skating defenceman for next year who has size and can be nasty as well. If Talbot can play next season consistently very well like last year then a very solid back up makes just three new faces needed for the team at least. One very good 2nd line left winger, a very good RHD (then lower Benning to 6th/7th defence), and a very good back up who can win at least 10 games alongside Talbots 30-35 (expected BTW) and the Oilers should be back in the playoffs with no such huge damaging cap space problems next year. Oh yeah…need the coach to be way, way better and “smarter” next season along with the staff.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      Auberg has been great. But I would put Pullijarvi in that situation for the rest of the games.
      I can see he has more potential that just needs unlocking with a boost of confidence.
      We have seen gradual improvement, then he gets pushed back.
      But he will be a much better player at his ceiling than Auberg at his.

      • Natejax97

        I’m not done with this Aberg experiment just yet…lets see if this develops…Puljijarvi, playing 3rd line allows him to play against a little weaker competition and helps his development and hopefully confidence. Maybe next year I would even try him on Draisaitl’s left wing (off wing) and keep Aberg there as well…who knows…going to be an interesting summer.

        • Glencontrolurstik

          I see your point. But how much of Auberg’s success has been affected by playing on the top lines?
          In his short time here he hasn’t seen anything else. I just wish they would give Pullijarvi that same advantage. They did the same thing with Yamamoto as well. I just think that Pullijarvi right now is better than a third line player, that’s all. I think Auberg’s play, although great, is an anomoly & will drop off & stabilaize. I want Pullijarvi to play with the best players over the next couple of weeks, so he can really know what to work on in the off-season.
          Not that he doesn’t have an idea already. It’s just great to reward a player that’s worked hard within the organization to be rewarded before someone of similar skill just coming in. That’s all.

    • Derian Hatcher

      I get your point…but who exactly is mike Johnson and other than being another attention seeking talking head, he really has no idea of the talent of 97.

  • Glencontrolurstik

    Hey, I had a thought. Could the Oil catch the Flames in the points race to beat them in the standings at the end of the season? With McDavid going for a target it just might put the Oilers ahead of the Flames? That’s something to look forward to? Any success this year is a success…

  • #97TRAIN

    Someone needs to slap Remenda right upside his big bald head.
    Connor should definitely be in the conversation for the Hart Trophy.
    Edmonton’s goal differential is -22 yet McDavid is +26.
    How is he not the most valuable player to his team?

  • GK1980

    The game emphasis the need to get that one D that can push all current D on the roster on step down. They also need to focus on the D part of the game, whole team. Do this and this team will prosper.

  • Randaman

    Trash me all you want but Nurse isn’t that smart in his own zone. Can we please get some better coaching for our D? It’s either that or Nurse just isn’t listening. There is always someone open while he watches the puck.

  • Heschultzhescores

    We have D that cannot stop anybody and cannot contribute offensively. They also seem unable to learn or maybe the coaches are not correcting their horrible play.