Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Insatiable: Connor at 60
11 months ago
“Sixty is a nice number, you know? A lot of great players have scored 60 goals before and it’s cool to join that list.”
True on both counts, but the last time a member of the Edmonton Oilers hit 60 before Connor McDavid did it Wednesday with two goals, including the 4-3 OT winner against the Arizona Coyotes, was the 1986-87 season when Wayne Gretzky did it on the way to scoring 62 times. That’s a decade before McDavid was born.
McDavid joins Gretzky, who did it five times, and Jari Kurri, who reached 60 twice, as Oilers to reach the milestone. As for the “lot of great players” component, yes, Gretzky, Kurri, Mario Lemieux, Teemu Selanne, Mike Bossy, Phil Esposito, Pavel Bure and Guy Lafleur, to name just eight, certainly qualify. They’re all in the HHOF.
For younger fans who weren’t around for the glory days of Gretzky, Kurri and five Stanley Cup parades or are too young to remember, watching McDavid truly has been something special. Hell, that holds true for this old set of eyes – I’ve watched every member of the 60-goal club play. I’m not a “those were the good, old days guy.” McDavid, especially with Leon Draisaitl sending him those sweet feeds, is as good as I’ve ever seen.
McDavid put his sublime skills on display and the Oilers ahead 1-0 with his 59th goal, banking the puck off Arizona goaltender Connor Ingram on a power play. McDavid’s 60th for the win, well, you just don’t forget a goal like that after you’ve seen it. Stopped in alone after a spinning backhand pass from Draisaitl, you know the rest. McDavid took a deft feed from Draisaitl on the wall, made a deke to put Ingram on his belly and then went shelf for the win. It really was magnificent, no?
Mar 22, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (97) scores the overtime winning goal, his 60th goal of the season against Arizona Coyotes goaltender Connor Ingram (39) at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Everybody knows by now that McDavid would rather talk about team accomplishments or almost anything else than about his latest individual feat. It was more of the same last night as Gene Principe grabbed him for a walk-off interview. On a night when the Oilers got the two points they needed against an Arizona outfit that was more stubborn than I expected, McDavid at least allowed himself to take it in and enjoy the moment.
“I mean, I think everyone was always talking about it. If you shoot more, you can score more. He’s obviously doing it. He’s worked extremely hard at it,” said Draisaitl, who celebrated being named best passer in a NHLPA poll this week with assists on all four Oiler goals.
“I think what a lot of people don’t really see, he put so much work into every little detail of his game and at some point, it was going to happen that way regardless.”
For those keeping tabs, McDavid today sits with 299-536-835 in the 559 NHL games he’s played since draft day in 2015. With 60-78-138, McDavid is the runaway leader in the Art Ross Trophy race ahead of Draisaitl, second at 44-66-110, matching his career-high for points. Draisaitl, by the way, has put up 298-428-726 in 628 games with the Oilers.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Asked about the motivation and drive that makes McDavid such an irresistible force, it’s no coincidence that coach Jay Woodcroft talked about traits associated with so many of the great players who have come before him.
“It’s insatiable,” Woodcroft said. “It’s what gets him up in the morning. It’s what he dedicates his life to. We get to see those highlight reel goals tonight, what most people don’t realize is that he’s in the gym right after the game and he’s doing things to prepare his body for the next time we go on the ice.
“He’s making sure he gets enough rest. Then, what he puts into his body, in terms of his fuel, is ultra-disciplined. Every moment in his day is geared toward the best that he can be . . . he takes it to a different degree. What we’re seeing is unbelievable.”
No debate here. You?
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