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Photo Credit: © Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

The Day After: Connor McDavid remains focused on the bigger goal

After a frustrating loss on Monday night, the Oilers earned a hard-fought win on Wednesday to come out of their two-game set with the Winnipeg Jets with a split.

The big story last night was Connor McDavid finally reaching point No. 500 for his NHL career. It took him only 369 games, the exact same amount of time it took Sidney Crosby to reach the milestone.

The point came as an assist, courtesy of Jesse Puljujarvi ripping a beautiful snipe over Connor Hellebuyck just a few minutes into the game.

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After the game, McDavid downplayed his accomplishment, suggesting it was simply something nice along the way to a larger goal.

“It’s a little milestone, I guess,” McDavid, incredibly modest as always, said. “A little thing along the way here is nice. To feel some of the reaction from my teammates and friends and family is really special. Onward.”

That’s certainly the Connor McDavid we’ve come to know. Never will we see this player get overly excited about his individual achievements. He has one goal, and that’s to win. While he and Crosby are now forever linked with 369 games to reach the 500-point plateau, Crosby had his first Stanley Cup by that point in his career.

The Stanley Cup is McDavid’s singular focus, a sentiment that head coach Dave Tippett echoed.

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“I know he doesn’t look at milestones like that very much, but I think later on in life he’ll look back and be very proud of some of those milestones,” Dave Tippett said of McDavid. “I know he still wants the team milestone ahead of the individual milestone, and that’s what he’s striving for.”

With the win, the Oilers now sit with a 10-8 record, alone in fourth place in the Canadian Division in terms of points percentage. Winnipeg is still slightly ahead because they have two games in hand on Edmonton. The Flames suffered a huge loss last night to the Vancouver Canucks and are in fifth. The Battle of Alberta coming up this weekend will be huge.

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Backhanders…

  • Somewhat lost behind McDavid’s 500th point was Tippett reaching a milestone of his own — his 600th career win as a head coach in the NHL. Tippett, who is now coaching in his 16th season, ranks 21st in all-time wins. He’s closing in on names like Jacques Martin and Jacques Lemaire on the list. Like his captain, though, I’m sure Tippett is more concerned about the Stanley Cup than his regular-season totals.
  • Leon Draisaitl had a couple of goals in Wednesday’s win and now has 28 points on the season and 450 for his career. It would be incredible if both Draisatl and McDavid could reach the 500-point plateau in the same season. There are 38 games left to be played in 2021 and, barring injury, it seems inevitable Draisaitl will score 50 more points.
  • With 500 points reached, the sights for McDavid now shifts to 1,000. Wayne Gretzky reached the millennium in 424 games, Mario Lemieux in 513 games, Mike Bossy in 656 games, and Peter Stastny in 682 games. If McDavid operates at his point-per-game career pace, he’ll reach 1,000 in 738 games. Crosby took 757 games.
  • Given the production we’ve seen from McDavid this year and last? I would assume 1,000 comes much quicker than that. I’m going to guess 669 games. That would mean his next 500 points are scored in his next 300 games, a 1.67 point-per-game average.