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Photo Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

GDB 18.0: McDavid Chases Another Milestone (6:30pm MT, SNW)

Connor McDavid will play his 425th NHL game tonight. He needs one assist to reach 400. He is almost averaging one assist per game at this point of his career. It is pretty remarkable and only three players in NHL history have accumulated 400 assists quicker.

Wayne Gretzky picked up his 400th helper in his 290th game. Mario Lemieux needed 353 games and Peter Stastny did it in 411 games.

McDavid will slide into fourth place ahead of Bobby Orr (437 games) and drop Sidney Crosby down to sixth (448 games). The crazy part about McDavid’s success is he is still improving and producing more points. His points/game has gone up every season.

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He produced 1.07 in 2016, then it went up to 1.22, 1.32, 1.49, 1.52 and 1.88 in 2021. McDavid is at 1.88 so far this season as well. If he keeps up this pace he could surpass Stastny for third quickest to 500 assists.

Stastny scored his 500th assist in his 507th game. That means McDavid needs 102 assists in his next 83 games. Essentially, he needs to produce assists at the same pace he has since the start of last season where he scored 92 assists in 73 games (1.26 assists/game). If he does that over 83 games he’ll have 104 assists. It is doable for McDavid, even though the assist totals are unattainable for most players.

From the start of the 2016-17 season to today, McDavid has 367 assists in 379 games. Leon Draisaitl is second with 285, followed by Patrick Kane (283), Artemi Panarin (276) and Brad Marchand (272). No one else is within 100 assists of McDavid. His assist production dwarfs the rest of the league. Marchand is within 100 assists over the past five seasons, but Marchand has a total of 408 assists in 819 games. McDavid is at 399 in 424 games. Even a really productive player like Marchand isn’t remotely close to McDavid’s per-game production.

I often read comments like “only the playoffs matter,” and I couldn’t disagree more. Every game matters in the context of history and a player’s career. Most player’s playoff games consist of about 10% of their total games played. And with 32 teams in the NHL, and more players missing the playoffs each year, many playing will have fewer than 10% of their total games played in the playoffs. Sidney Crosby has been to four Stanley Cup Finals and only 14.6% of his games came in the postseason. Duncan Keith has won three Cups, played in another two Conference Finals and only 10% of his total games have been playoff games.

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Claiming 100 playoff games mean everything and 1,000 regular season games mean very little is inane. It is ludicrous how often you hear someone spout off, saying “Talk to me in the playoffs.” If you don’t perform well in the regular season, your team’s chances of making the playoffs diminish, especially if you are an elite player and someone the team relies upon heavily. I don’t downplay regular season production at all. It provides a much larger sample size, and being prepared to play 82 games a year is a challenge. Those who do it, and produce significant numbers, should never be trivialized.

McDavid wants more playoff success, and I suspect he will have it in the future. I’d caution those who want to look past regular season games, or downplay them, because you could miss out on a lot. McDavid is a rare type of player. On any given shift he can do something that makes the crowd, even when he’s on the road, go “Wow.”

Don’t take for granted what you are watching, because, like your childhood, it will be over before you know it.

LINEUPS…

Oilers

Hyman – McDavid – Puljujarvi
RNH – Draisaitl – Yamamoto
Foegele – McLeod – Kassian
Perlini – Ryan – Turris

Keith – Bouchard
Russell – Barrie
Broberg – Ceci

Skinner

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Derek Ryan returns after missing two games with whiplash. “It was from the neutral zone collision with Schiefele,” said Ryan. “I had a little whiplash in my neck and had some headaches, so I wanted to take my time before I jumped back on the ice.” He missed one week, but is feeling better. Perlini returns to the lineup while Tyler Benson and Colton Sceviour are out.

The McLeod line had it best games as a trio, and if they can get going it will be a huge boost.
It is interesting to note that Leon Draisaitl is tied for second in the NHL in 5×5 points with 15. However, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (six points) and Kailer Yamamoto (four points) are tied for 137th and 284th respectively. Both need to produce more at 5×5.

Stars

Robertson – Hintz – Pavelski
Raffl – Benn – Gurianov
Kirivanta – Seguin – Glendening
Peterson – Faksa – Radulov

Lindell – Heiskanen
Suter – Klingberg
Sekera – Hakanpaa

Oettinger

A nice battle of young goalies between Skinner (2-2 with .939Sv%) and Oettinger (2-0 with .955Sv%). Both started the season in the AHL and have played well since being recalled.

The Star’s lines are a mixed bag. None of their players are really producing at 5×5. Robertson, Seguin, Glendening and Heiskanen are tied for the team lead with five points at 5×5. Glendening leads the Stars in 5×5 goals with four. Dallas is last in the NHL with only 21 goals at 5×5. They are ninth in 5×5 GA with 29. So they don’t score many, but also don’t give up a lot. However they are still -8 in GF-GA differential.

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Edmonton needs to pressure the Stars, but ensure they don’t gift them chances.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Edmonton is an ugly 10-34-2-2 all-time in Dallas. However, they have won five of their previous 10 games in Big D. Edmonton wins a low-event game 3-2.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: McDavid’s point streak reaches 18 games and he tallies his 400th assist.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Kris Russell scores his first goal in 107 games. His last goal was against Vegas on March 17th, 2019.

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