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Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

GDB 15.0: McDavid Magic (5pm MT, SNW)

Connor McDavid plays his 366th regular season NHL game tonight, and he has a chance to score his 500th career point. He needs four points, so it is still a big ask, but he’s in the midst of a heater with 22 points during a 10-game point streak, so I wouldn’t rule it out.

His career is off to a marvelous start, and if he remains healthy he will have a chance to finish his career among the true elite scorers in NHL history. If McDavid scores four points in his next three games he will become the eighth fastest player to score 500 points, narrowly edging out Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin.

Wayne Gretzky: 234 games.
Mario Lemieux: 287 GP
Peter Stastny: 322 GP
Mike Bossy 349 GP
Eric Lindros 352 GP
Jari Kurri 356 GP
Bryan Trottier 361 GP
McDavid currently 496 points in 366 games.
Sidney Crosby: 369 GP
Alex Ovechkin: 373 GP

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It is impressive to see how productive McDavid has been early in his career compared to other great scorers from different eras. He is right on track with Crosby and Ovechkin.

Crosby had 191-309-500, while Ovechkin scored 257-243-500.  McDavid is at 171-325-496 so far.

At times, I take for granted how good McDavid is. Whether I’m watching at home, or in the building, I watch with an expectation of him doing something amazing. Often he does, even when it doesn’t result in a goal. He, along with Leon Draisaitl, are incredibly gifted players and they are still improving and honing their skills. It is remarkable.

NHL fans got short-changed when Sidney Crosby spent three years dealing with concussion/neck issues. He only played 99 games between 2011-2013, but still tallied 159 points in those games. Despite those injuries Crosby was the 11th fastest player to score 1,000 points, needing 757 games. He scored 500 in his first 369 games, and the next 500 in 388 games.

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I hope for McDavid’s sake, and fans across the NHL, he is able to avoid injury and try to crack the top-10 in quickest to 1,000 career points. Phil Esposito is 10th at 745 games.

First McDavid needs to reach 500, and considering his recent tear, that likely happens tonight or Thursday in Montreal. Watching McDavid this season, I believe he is just starting to enter his prime, and that prime could last a decade. Today’s athletes have the benefits of superior information on training, nutrition and rest, as well as rehabbing technology and better equipment. It allows the greats to play at their best for longer periods. And I won’t be surprised at all if McDavid’s next 500 points occur faster than his first 500.

He has a flair for dramatics, and while McDavid is far from a selfish player, sliding in just ahead of Crosby and Ovechkin would be a nice feather in his cap. I won’t be stunned if he picks up four points tonight. If it doesn’t happen tonight, and it takes him an extra game or two, it will be a great accomplishment and one you were lucky enough to watch firsthand.

LINEUP…

Oilers

RNH – McDavid – Puljujarvi
Kahun – Draisaitl – Yamamoto
Ennis – Khaira – Archibald
Neal – Turris – Chiasson

Nurse – Barrie
Lagesson – Larsson
Jones or Koekkoek – Bouchard

Koskinen

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Chiasson and Koskinen are in for Kassian and Smith. Kassian is out at least 10 games as he was placed on LTIR today with what I’m hearing is a hand/finger injury. Tippett suggested he had some other players banged up so we could see one or two other changes. Based on what he said and Kris Russell blocking a shot with his foot, we could see him getting a rest tonight.

Senators

Tkachuk – Norris – Dadonov
Paul – White – Batherson
Stutzle – Tierney – Brown
Galchenyuk – Anisimov – Watson

Chabot – Zaitsev
Wolanin – Gudbranson
Reilly – Zub

Hogberg

Edmonton needs to test Hogberg early. He has to be a bit fragile entering the game with a .844Sv%. If the Oilers create chances like they did last night, and don’t pass up on some good looks, they should be able to get some pucks past Hogberg. In 33 career games he has a .894Sv%.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

From SensChirp.ca:

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The Ottawa Senators and the Edmonton Oilers are now three games into their season series.

The Oilers have won all three games, outscoring the Senators by a 15-8 margin. Leon Draisaitl, the league’s reigning Hart Trophy winner, has nine points in those three games. Connor McDavid, the league’s most talented player, has eight points. The Ottawa Senators play the Edmonton Oilers six more times this season, including tonight at the Canadian Tire Centre.

I guess what I’m saying is I really miss the Detroit Red Wings and the Buffalo Sabres.

There was a lot of talk about it heading into this year but as the Senators approach the quarter mark in their regular season, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that there are going to be no easy games for this young hockey team. And while their play has been greatly improved over the last three outings, the losses are still piling up.

There are many challenges facing DJ Smith and his staff this year but at the top of that list is ensuring that this collection of players remains positive and engaged in what is clearly going to be a long year. At the same time, they certainly don’t want this collection of young players to get complacent or to let losing become a habit.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk

GAME DAY PREDICTION: For the first time this season the Oilers end the night with a winning record. Hogberg’s struggles continue as the Oilers win 5-3.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: McDavid gets two points at least. So does Draisaitl, as both continue to make scoring look easy.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Tyler Ennis scores in back-to-back games for the first time as an Oiler.

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