Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
The Connors: Welcome to the Show
2 months ago
The puck went backhand to forehand and into the top corner of the net behind Stuart Skinner in the blink of an eye. It didn’t take long for the Edmonton Oilers’ faithful at Rogers Place last night to get a glimpse at what all the fuss that’s been made over Connor Bedard of the Chicago Blackhawks is about.
On a night Connor McDavid, the best player on the planet, extended his latest points streak to 10 games with two assists and the Oilers prevailed 4-1 for their eighth consecutive win, a lot of fans filed out of the rink with the sense the 18-year-old Bedard has a chance to take the torch from Edmonton’s captain. Not right now, not yet, but down the road.
Bedard has been generating the same kind of buzz McDavid did when he broke in with the Oilers in 2015-16 after being selected first overall from the Erie Otters. Bedard, the first pick by the Blackhawks last summer from the Regina Pats, certainly wowed ‘em early in Oil Country with the 1-0 goal even though McDavid and the Oilers handily won the night.
At the bottom line, the Oilers moved to within a game of tying the franchise record of nine straight wins and today they’re over .500 for the first time this season with a mark of 13-12-1 as the Tampa Bay Lightning come calling Thursday. That was the big story from this game, but that move off the rush by Bedard? Mercy.
WHAT THEY SAY
“You watch it on video lots because any time you open Instagram, it’s the first thing that comes up, his shot,” said Skinner, who didn’t give the Blackhawks a sniff the rest of the way and made 22 saves for his seventh straight win. “He made a nice move. It was a very nice shot. Give the kid his props.”
For context, McDavid scored 12-19-31 over the course of the first 28 games in his injury-shortened rookie season for an Oilers team that wasn’t very good – they were 11-15-2 at that point. With last night’s goal, Bedard sits at 12-12-24 on a rebuilding and injury-depleted Chicago team that is dead-last in the Western Conference at 9-18-1 for 19 points.
“I just saw him score one of those just the other night,” Oilers’ coach Kris Knoblauch said. “We saw it in the pre-scout how he brings it backhand-to-forehand so quick, and it’s a good hard shot right into the corner. Very difficult for a goalie to save, but that’s an elite shot.
“They came out and they played a very good hockey game, and I think our guys woke up and decided, ‘Hey, we’ve got to really pick it up and play much better.’ In the second and third. I thought we played a really solid game.”
THE BOTTOM LINE
With formal introductions out of the way, we’ll have countless head-to-head comparisons as McDavid and Bedard face each other in coming years. It was that way with McDavid following Sidney Crosby and for decades upon decades with other greats before that — Orr-Lafleur-Gretzky-Lemieux-Jagr-Lindros and so on. Only the names have changed. That’s fun. That’s the nature of the game.
Right now, McDavid has a legacy to establish and a Stanley Cup ring to chase. There’s still time – McDavid is 26 and turns 27 in January – but there’s a lot more work to do to make that happen after a bad start and it’s inevitable there’s a next one, like Bedard, on the way. Did I mention that 1-0 goal?
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