Game Notes Rangers @ Oilers: Another McDavid Milestone

Photo credit:Jessica Alcheh-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
1 year ago
Another game, another milestone for Connor McDavid.
— McDavid picked up two assists Wednesday vs the Red Wings to give him 99 points in 55 games. He can reach the 100-point mark for the sixth time in his young eight-year career tonight v. the New York Rangers. It will be his third consecutive 100-point season, and if it wasn’t for COVID prematurely ending the 2020 season, this would be his seventh consecutive season of 100 points, which would be the second longest streak in NHL history, behind Wayne Gretzky’s run of 13 in a row.
McDavid is poised to set career highs in goals, assists, and points this year. He is on pace for 62 goals, 85 assists and 147 points.
— When he picks up his 100th point he will become the 16th player in NHL history with six seasons with 100 points. He joins a Hall-of-Fame list. Only five players (Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Marcel Dionne, Mike Bossy and Peter Stastny) had seven seasons with 100 points, a group McDavid likely joins next season. He will finish at least second on this list, but I believe he has a chance to tie Gretzky’s record of 15 seasons with 100 points.
— McDavid needs four points to reach 800 in his career. He’ll be the 181st player to reach 800, and if he maintains his scoring pace for the final 27 games this season, he will be in the top 150 by the end of the season. He’s averaging 1.47 points/game in his career, which is fourth highest behind Gretzky (1.92), Lemieux (1.88) and Bossy (1.50).
— The Oilers will need McDavid and the entire team to play well tonight if they want to win. The Rangers are a league-best 13-2-2 since January 1st. Edmonton has the fifth-best record in the league at 10-3-4. New York has won six in a row while outscoring teams 31-17. Five of those wins came against Pacific division teams (Van 2x, Seattle, Calgary and Vegas). And the Rangers only got better this week by adding Vladimir Tarasenko and Niko Mikkola in a trade from St. Louis.
— Tarasenko is playing on a line with Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin, and they’ve had instant chemistry. Panarin has six goals and nine points in three games since Tarasenko arrived. The Oilers’ top two lines will likely play the most minutes against this line, and they need to be aware defensively.
— Since January 1st Edmonton has outscored teams 45-32 at 5×5, which is the fifth best GF% (58.44) in the NHL. The Rangers are sixth at 57.53%. Edmonton only has four skaters under 50GF% in 2023: Evander Kane (4-10), Tyson Barrie (8-11), Cody Ceci (11-14) and Leon Draisaitl (13-15). The Oilers aren’t giving up many goals to the opposing teams’ elite players. The only players below 50% v. Elite are Kane and Brett Kulak (0-1) and McDavid (3-4). Edmonton will need that to continue tonight v. the Rangers’ top trio.
— The Oilers need to be much better at holding the lead on home ice when they score first. The Oilers are 8-5-2 when scoring first. Their .533 winning% is 28th in the league. Only Anaheim and Vancouver (.500), Philadelphia (.455) and San Jose (.364) are worse. The odd part is Edmonton has the best winning% when scoring first on the road. They are 11-1 (.917). The Oilers also have the seventh best winning% when allowing the first goal on the road. They have been a much better road team than home team this season. They need to find a way to be more consistent at home.
Jay Woodcroft said Kailer Yamamoto would play today, which means roster moves are coming. I’m expecting Dylan Holloway and Vincent Desharnais to be reassigned to Bakersfield, which clears enough cap space to activate Yamamoto from LTIR. Holloway has averaged the fewest minutes of any Oilers player currently on the roster with 9:35/game. He’s played under 10 minutes in three of the last five games. It makes sense to let him play some big minutes in the AHL for a few games. It would be good for his confidence.
— Desharnais has played well in his limited minutes. He will be missed most on the penalty kill. I sense this is a short-term option. When I tweeted yesterday that I expect a 20-man roster, many asked why the Oilers wouldn’t just waive one of Jesse Puljujarvi, Warren Foegele, or Mattias Janmark. Foegele has played well in my eyes. I don’t understand the angst toward Foegele. He has very good possession numbers and he’s scored seven goals in 40 games, which prorates to 14 in a full season and he isn’t on the power play. The coach trusts Janmark and likes his versatility. He hasn’t been great, but not awful. Puljujarvi has struggled the most. I sense the decision came down to the organization feeling Puljujarvi can contribute as much as Holloway in the 10 minutes he was getting, and this allows Holloway an opportunity to play big minutes for a few AHL games.
— I also think the organization is concerned about losing Puljujarvi on waivers for nothing. At this point, I don’t see why that should matter. The Oilers won’t qualify him at $3m this summer, and he won’t re-sign in Edmonton for lower. He’d rather test the market and get a fresh start somewhere else. Both parties need a fresh start, but it seems like even though they know a breakup is coming they are trying to “end well” with him being part of a trade instead of waivers. There is also the salary cap factor. If they could keep Desharnais and just send Holloway to the AHL, they would prefer that, but they can’t, so Desharnais has to go down. I sense it will be temporary, as Holland will work the phones to try and make a trade that involves moving Puljujarvi’s $3m cap hit.


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