Off the Top of My Head
Photo credit:Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports
11 months ago
Before this season began, we were wondering if this would be the year Connor McDavid scored 50 goals. Here we are 28 games into the schedule, and it looks like we have our answer. What we don’t know yet is how many games it’ll take McDavid to hit the big 5-0 and what his final goal total will be.
McDavid has 25 goals after making it 2-0 in the Edmonton Oilers 5-2 win over the Minnesota Wild on Friday, and he’s rolling like a runaway train right now. He has nine goals during a goal streak that now sits at seven games. McDavid has been ridiculously hot along the way with a 22.7 shooting percentage – his career mark is 15.5 per cent — and while he’s bound to cool off, it’s been fun to watch.
McDavid’s 25-29-54 totals put him atop the league in all three categories and that production has been timely with some holes in the line-up because of injury and the Oilers trying to put together a push in the Pacific Division. They’d lost seven straight vs. the Wild before Friday.
The most obvious difference in McDavid’s game as he pursues the Rocket Richard Trophy now from when he broke into the league is he sees himself as the best shoot-first option — aside from maybe Leon Draisaitl. During his 2015-16 rookie season, abbreviated by a broken clavicle, McDavid took 105 shots in 45 games. He’s at 110 shots after 28 games now. As an aside, he’s the first Oiler to have goals in seven straight games since Jimmy Carson in 1988.
So, when does McDavid hit 50 goals? Is a 50-in-50 scenario even a possibility? It seems obvious now, barring injury, McDavid will hit 60 goals this season. Is 70-something possible?
THAT KLIM KID
Dec 7, 2022; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Klim Kostin (21) celebrates after scoring a goal during the third period against the Arizona Coyotes at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Some players you can’t help but like and big Russian Klim Kostin, who arrived in Edmonton from the St. Louis Blues via trade Oct. 9, is quickly becoming one of those guys for me.
From his antics with reporters after the morning skate Wednesday to his Gordie Howe Hat-trick – he scored the 6-1 goal, added an assist and had a scrap with Zack Kassian — in an 8-2 romp over Arizona, Kostin looks like he’s enjoying himself. Kostin, 23, has got some game and he’s got a sense of humor as well.
“I don’t know, I didn’t see,” said Kostin, asked about his marked up lip and the scuffed knuckles on his right hand after throwing down with Kassian. “I was just fighting. He was cross-checking me from behind and grabbed my neck.
“I was like, ‘Okay, so there’s like no way to go away from this fight.’ I’m not looking for a fight, I just want to play hockey, but if fights come, I’m not going away.”
Kostin is one of those guys who helps keep the room loose. Rem Murray was like that. Bill Guerin loved a good laugh. Likewise, Marty Reasoner and Matt Greene, who should have had their own lounge act in Las Vegas. Work hard. Have some fun.
IN BEN’S NAME
Photo: Mike Stelter
Wonderful news on Thursday about a fund that’s been established in the name of Ben Stelter to assist families who are dealing with cancer by way of research, medical equipment for home use and venture philanthropy. Ben was just six when he passed away last Aug. 9 after a long battle with brain cancer.
As part of the initiative, it’s been announced Oilers captain Connor McDavid and family friend Ashif Mawji have kicked off the fund with a contribution of $100,000. McDavid talked about supporting the fund with reporters after Friday morning’s skate.
“We want Ben’s name and his legacy to go on forever and I think this is the perfect way,” said Mike Stelter, Ben’s father. “We want to keep Ben’s generous spirit and his love going — to do what we can and do as much as we can for other families.”
Mike Stelter tells me the fund is something he and wife Lea intend to put some time and energy into moving forward.
WHILE I’M AT IT
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had an empty-net goal and two assists in the win over the Wild and has back-to-back three-point games. RNH sits at 14-19-33 after 28 games and is third on the team behind only McDavid and Draisaitl.
“Ryan is an excellent teammate,” coach Jay Woodcroft said. “He does whatever the coaching staff asks of him. He’s well respected and he does a lot of little subtle things in the game that he’s having success with. So, it’s doing it five-on-five, he’s doing it five-on-four. I thought that line has been really effective and he’s doing a lot of really good stuff.”
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