On the Clock
Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
8 months ago
On a night the Edmonton Oilers played well enough to stick right with the Boston Bruins, the best team in the NHL by a bunch right now, close was cold consolation for Connor McDavid.
Likewise, at least in the moments after a 3-2 loss to the Bruins, were the two goals McDavid scored to reach 50 for the first time in his career. You only had to watch McDavid’s walk-off interview in the second intermission with Sportsnet’s Gene Principe or listen to his post-game comments to understand that.
The game is, and always has been, about winning for McDavid. That much we know. In this, McDavid’s eighth season with the Oilers, the window of opportunity to hoist a Stanley Cup is wide-open. How long it stays that way, we don’t know. This is a team capable of contending with the roster coach Jay Woodcroft has to work with, but that likely isn’t good enough to get over the top without help from GM Ken Holland.
So, here we are. The NHL’s 1 p.m. Friday trade deadline is fast approaching with the Oilers in the thick of the Western Conference playoff mix. I’m waiting to see how Holland’s win-now edict will translate into action that fans in the stands and players in the home dressing room at Rogers Place can hang their hats on.
GET IT DONE
“Winning is a skill and they’ve obviously mastered it,” McDavid said of the Bruins. “They capitalize on mistakes here and there and they don’t give up much.” As for reaching the 50-goal milestone for the first time, McDavid was as keen talking about that as you’d expect. “It’s a nice number,” he said.
We’re 61 games into the schedule and the Oilers are sitting at 32-21-8 for 72 points. A year ago after 61 games, on the way to a run that took them to the Western Conference final where they were swept by Colorado, the Oilers were 34-23-4 for 72 points. Getting back to that and building on it is going to take more than declaring that getting Evander Kane back from some busted ribs is just like a deadline acquisition. No, it’s not.
At 67, Holland has been a general manager in this league since he took the chair in Detroit in 1997. So, while I understand the angst within a fan base that’s been waiting for weeks for him to make a move, Holland has a pretty firm grasp on what needs to be done. Rest assured, he’s not going to snooze unaware as the deadline comes and goes. Making the money, the dollars-in-dollars-out component, work is challenging, but that’s why he draws his salary.
“He’s just playing every night the same way and obviously, it’s showing for him, statistically and stuff,” Tyson Barrie said of the competitive streak that drives McDavid. “It’s cool for us to see and it’s another accolade for him, but to make that guy happy, what we’ve got do in here is win. That’s what we all want to do and what we want to see for him and for all of us. If we can pull that off for him, then that’s when I think you’ll see the big smile.”
THE BOTTOM LINE
Feb 27, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (97) celebrates a goal, his 50th of the season during the second period against the Boston Bruins at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
This fanbase is desperate for a winner, and with no sniff since that Game 7 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006 Stanley Cup final and no parade on Jasper Ave. since 1990 when the Oilers beat the Bruins in five games, that’s understandable. It’s about time, no?
Fans are waiting for their GM to do what it takes to provide that final bump, to build on the buzz generated a year ago. I’m guessing you won’t get any argument from the guy who was uncomfortably posing with the 50-goal puck after the loss last night. It’s time to show everybody what you’ve got, Ken.
THE DAILY FACEOFF TRADE DEADLINE SHOW
Join us on March 3rd for the Daily Faceoff Live: Trade Deadline edition as Frank Seravalli and the panel break down all of the latest rumours, news, and rumblings from around the NHL. The show will be live on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter from 10 AM – 2 PM MT to keep you up to date on all things trade deadline no matter where you’re watching from.
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