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Photo Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

GDB 41.0: Youthful Exuberance (5pm MT, SNW)

My seven year old son stepped on the scale yesterday and proudly declared, “I’m a 59 pounder.” His quest to reach 60 pounds continues. It seemed like only last month he was giddy as he closed in on 40 pounds, despite that being over two years ago. Having an upbeat, active and happy child is one of the greatest gifts I’ve been given. His outlook on life, especially during the past 13 months, has taught me a lot about not worrying about things you can’t control and to appreciate the present.

Children have a wonderful ability to enjoy the moment and to celebrate new achievements. Whether it is hitting the crossbar for the first time, learning new words, figuring out addition and subtraction, gapping the jump at the dirt hills or seeing a great goal in hockey or a “sick” shot in basketball. He gets so excited and it is infectious.

Most mornings we like to watch the highlights from the previous night in the NHL. He likes to watch the highlights while reading the box score so he knows which player scored. He has many favourite players, and it changes week to week, usually based on who scored a nice goal. He only sees the positives in the goals, and ones that excite him or he thinks were cool or strange he likes to watch numerous times.

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Yesterday he opted to go to the dirt hills rather than watch the game. Smart kid. The dirt jumps will always be more exciting, plus he can watch the highlights later, so this morning he watched the Oilers/Senators game. “Dad, Draisaitl finally got his empty net goal,” he smiled after Draisaitl scored his hat trick goal. He has an incredible memory for small details.

But it was Draisaitl’s second goal that really caught his eye. He watched it at least six or seven times. At first he thought it went in off the goalie, but on his second viewing he was amazed that it went right in. He was fascinated by the angle in the final few seconds of the replay. “He was right on the line dad. That is crazy.”

After he watched it for the seventh time, he jumped off my lap and said, “I want to try it.” Young kids think anything is possible, so we went to the garage and he tried shooting from a similar spot. He shoots right, so he was on the opposite side, but he kept firing pucks. After 10 or 15 shots he got a bit frustrated because he wasn’t scoring. I smiled and told him Draisaitl practices that shot regularly, and he probably didn’t make it the first day either. We can keep trying. I went inside to make breakfast and a few minutes later he came in. He couldn’t score when he was even to the net, but he thought maybe it was because he was on the garage floor and not the ice. He did score from “a few inches off the line” he informed me.

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Within a few minutes he was focused on finishing his word search homework. He loves those and was just as excited about finding “jouer”, “marcher” and “nous” (he is in French Immersion) all diagonally. After I dropped him off at school it got me thinking about some of the great goals we see in the NHL.

I love goals. I definitely prefer offensive players. I appreciate the skill required to play defence, but I gravitate towards those who produce offence. I’ve been lucky enough to watch many elite skilled players live over the past 20 years thanks to my job. Alex Ovechkin, Patrick Kane, Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Ilya Kovalchuk, Joe Sakic and now Auston Matthews, Nathan MacKinnon, Draisaitl and Connor McDavid and others. I enjoy watching the highlights from around the NHL with my son because I get to see so many highly skilled goals.

The Oilers’ elite duo along with the other top stars are a treat to watch. I chuckle sometimes when my son asks why didn’t they score. I tell him no one, not even the best players in the world, score every game. “Well I score every time I play you in the garage,” he replies quickly. He is young enough to think our garage games are similar to an NHL game.

BIG TIME PRODUCTION…

Nov 24, 2019; Glendale, AZ, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (97) and center Leon Draisaitl (29) on the bench against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

I outlined earlier today in Game Notes the ridiculous stats Draisaitl and McDavid have produced against Ottawa so far this season, but they’ve both had outstanding seasons overall. McDavid leads the NHL with 68 points in 40 games. He is on pace for 139 points in an 82-game season, while Draisaitl has 61 points.

Since 1993 (after the end of the Oilers dynasty) only 12 players have scored 68 points in a season for the Oilers.

Doug Weight did it six times: (104, 90, 82, 74, 72 and 70 points).
McDavid five times: (116, 108. 100, 97 and 68 so far this season).
Draisaitl four times: (110, 105, 77 and 70). He has 61 points this season and will likely surpass 80+.
Alex Hemsky twice: 77 and 71
And Taylor Hall (80), Jordan Eberle (76), Shawn Horcoff (73), Ryan Smyth and Zdeno Ciger (70), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (69) and Jarret Stoll and Jason Arnott (68) each once.

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McDavid and Draisaitl have only played half a season and they are both in the top-30 points totals of the past 29 years. It is remarkable what they are doing offensively, and it is crazy to think that if they remain on the current scoring pace they will both finish the season in the top-10 point totals since 1993 and Weight will be the only other player in the top-10 single-season totals with them.

McDavid is on pace for 139 points. Only 11 players in NHL history have scored 139 points in a season.

11 times: Wayne Gretzky (215, 212, 208, 205, 196, 183, 168, 164, 163, 149 and 142).
5 times: Mario Lemieux (199, 168, 161, 160 and 141).
2 times: Phil Esposito (152 and 145).
One time: Steve Yzerman (155), Bernie Nicholls (150), Jaromir Jagr (149), Pat Lafontaine (148), Mike Bossy (147), Adam Oates (142), Peter Stastny and Bobby Orr (139).

It is unfortunate he won’t have the opportunity this season to take a run at 139 points, but he is just entering his prime and I won’t be surprised if he challenges 140 points in the future.

Be sure to rewind and watch the highlights of the plays McDavid and Draisaitl are likely to make tonight against the Senators. They will be impressive.

LINEUP…

Oilers ***UPDATED***

Draisaitl-McDavid-Puljujarvi
Kahun-Haas-Yamamoto
Shore-Khaira-Archibald
Kassian-Turris-Chiasson

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Nurse – Barrie
Russell – Larsson
Jones – Bear

Smith

There might be a lineup change other than Smith in goal. Tippett said they are monitoring some guys. Gaetan Haas is banged up and that’s why he didn’t play last night. Will he be ready to go tonight? If they have multiple injuries they could place a player on IR to free up a roster spot, or they could put a veteran on non-roster waivers to free up a spot and recall a player from the taxi squad. But remember: the person they put on waivers would still count against the cap for tonight, so it only works if they have cap space.

Senators

Stutzle –  Tierney –  Batherson
Tkachuk – Norris – Paul
Amadio – Bishop –  Brown
Amadio/Formenton– Anisimov – Dadonov

Chabot –  Zaitsev
Reilly –  Zub
Brannstrom – Gudbranson

Forsberg

The Sens will have a new third D pair tonight and Amadio is also in up front — not sure for who though. And Anton Forsberg gets the start. He has faced a lot of shots in his three starts, but he has a solid .920sv%.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

From SensChirp.ca:

Heading into this season, there was a lot of talk about the possibility for new rivalries.

Because teams would be playing an absurd number of games against the same teams, and in some instance two or more games in a row, the animosity would build. The intensity on the ice would be dialed up and it would lead to a more entertaining product on the ice.

Sure, there has been some of that. The ol’ duck and cover routine from Leon Draisaitl proved as much last night.

What I did not expect is how quickly I would learn to hate teams I had previously ignored. Go ahead and add the Edmonton Oilers to that list. Losing to the same team eight times in a row will do that, I suppose.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The win streak extends to a franchise-breaking nine wins over the same team in a season. Oilers win 4-2.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: McDavid and Draisaitl continue to light up the Senators. They combine for five points.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: After a rough game last night the RNH line rebounds and Puljujarvi scores his ninth goal of the season.

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