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Photo Credit: © Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

The Day After: Connor McDavid’s brilliance was the bow on top of the Oilers’ best effort of 2021

The Oilers badly needed a win last night.

The team looked like it had reached a turning point with that last-second, walk-off win in Winnipeg, but they went on to drop a pair of frustrating games after that, falling to 3-6-0 on the season.

Everything clicked on Saturday night. The Oilers put forward their strongest effort of the season, buzzing with consistent energy in the offensive zone and playing a tight defensive game in their own zone. They also got a massive boost from Connor McDavid who had one of his signature dominant games against the Maple Leafs.

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McDavid is deservedly the story of the game, but it’s worthwhile to point out the full effort the Oilers got from their entire lineup. Many times in the past we’ve seen a great McDavid game get spoiled by the team’s depth not showing up to play. That wasn’t the case on Saturday.

The Oilers had 52 shot attempts at even strength while the Leafs had 39 and Edmonton dominated in terms of high danger chances with 13 while Toronto had six. Every single Oiler except for Josh Archibald and Devin Shore were in the green in terms of shot attempt differential and those two finished 8-to-9 and 4-to-4 respectively.

Dominik Kahun buried his first goal as an Oiler to kick things off and they also got a goal from the bottom-six when McDavid took a shift with Archibald and Tyler Ennis. And, of course, there was this power-play gem from McDavid…

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That’s just insanity. McDavid made Jake Muzzin and Justin Holl, a very effective defensive pairing, look like pylons. They had no chance. There was absolutely nothing they could do to stop McDavid just ripping through them like a hot knife through butter.

The goal last year where McDavid walked Morgan Rielly and made him look like he was on inline skates was one thing, but this was a whole other animal. This time, he casually worked through the entire Leafs team and everyone looked like they were frozen in time. Again, making Muzzin and Holl look that bad is incredibly impressive.

For me, it’s the best goal of McDavid’s career, though I can also see the argument for the Columbus gem.

Backhanders…

  • With the win, the Oilers now sit at 4-6-0. It isn’t great, but the team now has a stretch in which they play four of their next five games against the Ottawa Senators, so there’s a prime opportunity to regain some ground in the standings.
  • It looks like Mikko Koskinen will finally get some rest. The Oilers have added Troy Grosenick to their roster and he’ll be available to play tonight against Ottawa. There’s some risk because Grosenick hasn’t played a game in a long time, but Koskinen needs a break. Dave Tippett wouldn’t say last night whether or not the team would make a change in net.
  • Ethan Bear left Saturday’s game due to injury and didn’t return. We don’t yet know the severity of the situation, but it’s reasonable to assume Bear will be off for the second leg of the back-to-back this weekend. If that’s the case, this would be a prime chance for the Oilers to get Evan Bouchard into the lineup for some reps.