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The Day After 72.0: Connor McDavid reminds everyone the awards haven’t been handed out yet

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Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
18 days ago
The date was November 12th, 2023, and the Edmonton Oilers had a 3-9-1 record, sitting 31st in the NHL ahead of only the San Jose Sharks.
About everything that could’ve gone wrong in those first 13 games did, and it led to the dismissal of Jay Woodcroft and Dave Manson from behind the Oilers bench. Connor McDavid was banged up, dealing with some kind of injury he had suffered weeks prior.
While his 10 points in 11 games would be a number many around the league would be happy with, there were a staggering 112 players ahead of him that had more points than he, and he was well behind Canucks centre Elias Pettersson. But since Kris Knoblauch took over behind the bench starting with a Nov. 13 game against the New York Islanders, Connor McDavid has hit a whole other level.
He’s racked up 27 goals and a stunning 115 points in 59 games — including a two-goal, three-point performance in the Oilers 6-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks Saturday — lapping the entire NHL, as well as Nathan MacKinnon and Nikita Kucherov, to lead the league in points for the first time all season, despite those two regaining their spots with big nights Saturday. Simply put, though, this run has been nothing short of historic for McDavid.
It marked the second time in his career that he’s scored as many points in as few games, having previously done so between November 28th, 2022 and April 9th, 2023. There’s an exclusive list of players who have also done so, including Wayne Gretzky (193 times), Mario Lemieux (60), Steve Yzerman (22), Mike Bossy (11), Phil Esposito (seven), Bobby Orr (six), Bernie Nicholls (four), Jaromir Jagr (three), Paul Coffey (three), and Adam Oates (one). There’s lots of overlap within some of these seasons, but the list is impressive, nonetheless. Even more considering the fact that when he did so last season, he was the first to do it since Lemieux in the 1995-96 season.
For McDavid, his production has once again ramped up in the stretch run of a season. His seven goals and 31 points in 15 games match a career-high for points in a month with his Dec. 2022 month where he scored 14 goals and 31 points in 15 games.
His March production, once again, put him in exclusive company, becoming the ninth player to score as many points in the calendar month, joining Gretzky (six times) and Lemieux (three times) as the only players to do it more than twice in a career. The others who have done so once are Bobby Clarke, Hakan Loob, Esposito, Stan Smyl, Bobby Orr and Jagr. He’s the first to do so since Jagr in 2000-01.
All this production is nice and all, but McDavid said there are much bigger things at foot.
“It’s nice I guess, it’s a position I’ve been in many times before,” he said of leading the league in scoring. “We’re playing for things bigger than that.
“We’re playing to make sure our game is in order. We’re still playing for positioning. There’s lots of hockey left, 10 games left, you never know what can happen coming down the stretch.”
One of those things they’re playing for is a shot at winning their division for the first time since 1986-87, when the Oilers of the ’80’s were in their prime. They’ve been close in recent years, finishing second in each of the last four seasons, and with the win over the Ducks, they sit just four points behind the Vancouver Canucks for the top spot.
In Edmonton’s favour is a game in hand they can’t afford to lose, and a head-to-head matchup with them on April 13th.
Buckle up, folks. It’s go time.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@thenationnetwork.com.

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