2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs-How Connor McDavid somehow took his game to another level

Edmonton-Connor McDavid has adopted a master class of post-season performance to take the Edmonton Oilers to a higher level.

For example, take a look at McDavid’s play in Game 2 of Edmonton’s second round Stanley Cup Playoffs series against Calgary Flames. The Oilers were dragging 3-1 after an unauthorized goal, and McDavid just set the next goal for Leon Draisaitl, who was also called back.

get annoyed? Not McDavid. Shortly thereafter, Edmonton’s captain took control, hanging Calgary’s defenses and defeating Jacob Markström.

Edmonton’s bench exploded. The Oilers have reopened. And with Edmonton winning 5-3 and even the best 7 series 1-1, Calgary never scored again.

McDavid didn’t say much about his goals-“I’m glad I could contribute,” he later said-but the impact, or what McDavid has in these playoffs. Did not misunderstand.

And if McDavid isn’t going to talk about his play, there are a lot of people around him who are willing to pick up slack.

“The way this guy is playing right now, it’s special,” said Jay Woodcroft, interim coach of the Oilers. “He is moving our team forward. Connor is the best hockey player in the world. He is ready to pay the price to win. He is driven to win. He is ours. I want to influence everyone in the organization and take his game to the next. Level. “

“I think he’s pushing his limits, right? And that’s what a special player does,” added forward Zack Heyman. “He took the game to another level. It’s already difficult. But he leads our team in every way. He’s doing everything. He’s where we are here. That’s a big reason to be in. “

The Oilers “Here” leads the series in Calgary 2-1 after a 4-1 explosion in Game 3 on Sunday. McDavid scored three points in the game, teeing up two of Ebander Kane’s three goals and another by Heyman. But McDavid’s dominance goes beyond the scoresheet.

He can also get in your head.

“We now have a man beat us for a few nights,” said Frames forward Matthew Kachuck following Sunday’s defeat. “Go back to the drawing board and find a way to stop him. Most of the time, they have one player who plays half of the game and he’s playing great hockey right now. We’re playing it. I have to find a way to stop it .. “

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Given the recent layer of McDavid’s contribution, it would be like stopping a freight train:

  • He can easily attack the attack zone at unparalleled speed.

  • He can run under pressure to keep his play alive.

  • He fights defensively to create an attack.

  • He was physically involved, throwing Edmonton the second most hit (12) in this Alberta battle series and collecting the third most (33) in 10 playoff games.

The list may continue from there. McDavid has become sharper since he hit the brick wall, which was Jonathan Quick until the Oilers launched their first round series against the Los Angeles Kings and was able to drag Edmonton into a seven-game series victory. I did.

McDavid leads the NHL postseason field with points (23), as well as regular season (123). He is also a finalist at the Hart Memorial Trophy this season. But it wasn’t their praise that made him stand out. And since it was late in Game 2, that’s not why Woodcroft is willing to put the superstar on the ice when Edmonton is coerced to protect an important lead.

“I saw a leader who was ready to enter the shooting lane when the match was in progress,” Woodcroft said. “He was there for a reason when the goalkeeper was pulled to kill the penalty. He put his body on the line for us to win. And that type of self-sacrifice wins this time. What you need for a year. “

McDavid effect by numbers

At first glance at McDavid, he passes an eye test. His post-season stats embody an even bigger story.

In Game 3 on Sunday, McDavid became the first player in Stanley Cup Playoffs history to play nine multipoint contests in the first ten games.

Outliers had a pointless night in Game 4 against LA (Quick Shutout). Since then, McDavid has scored multiple points in six consecutive contests, the longest consecutive win since Evgeni Malkin achieved the same feat in 2009 (and when Pittsburgh lifted the cup). Finally won the Corn Smyth). Only Wayne Gretzky (8 games in a row in 1983), Tony Curry (7 games in 1981) and Darryl Sittler (7 games in 1977) went well.

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McDavid scored 23 points, the fourth highest in the first 10 playoff games, following Wayne Gretzky (29 in 1983, 25 in 1985) and Mario Lemieux (25 in 1992). It is tied (with Rick Middleton in Boston in 1983).

Anyway, McDavid skated with Dryzeitl and Kane’s other top talents, creating sparkling individual numbers. But his appearance is only part of the puzzle.

“”[What] “When the best players in the playoffs are playing the best hockey in their careers, the team really has a chance to win,” said Mike Smith, goalkeeper of the Oilers.

And how.

According to Stasleet, when McDavid was on the ice, the Oilers created 34 scoring chances against fire (11.3 per game). Without him, Edmonton created only 17 scoring chances (5.7 per game) and allowed 42 scoring chances (14.0 per game).

He also leads all skaters in this series with an expected number of goals per 60 minutes (5.52). Dry Zytle is second at 5.18. Kane is third at 3.82.

Throughout the first 10 playoff games of the Oilers, Edmonton beat McDavid and his opponent 102-47 on the ice, a staggering +55 difference. By comparison, the Oilers have 62 scoring chances and 101 scoring chances with McDavid not on the ice.

As a team, Edmonton scored 28 goals in the postseason 5-5. McDavid was there for 17 (or 60.7%) of them.

The Oilers abandoned 169 shot attempts (16.9 per game) in these playoffs because McDavid was included in the mix, but 376 (37.6 per game) when McDavid was on the bench. )was.

This is an amazing reflection on McDavid’s entire game and represents a huge amount of ways to make Edmonton better. He’s already widely recognized as the best NHL player, but McDavid hasn’t stopped reinventing, adjusting, and improving. What impresses my teammates most is their commitment to excellence.

“Every year, in every important situation, he takes the next step and continues to take his game to another level,” said Oilers forward Ryan Newgent Hopkins. “In this playoff, I think he was physically hitting a guy. He uses his body to protect the puck and ride the forecheck. It’s seen as a group and obviously he’s on every occasion. I will play. [that are] Create something from nothing that is available and in so many situations.But for our group, when he is your captain and he is doing it [other stuff], You want to follow it, and you want to follow his example. “

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“I was driven to be the best in the world”

Every time McDavid touched the puck in Game 3, there was a roar at Rogers Place. The “MVP” chant reigned regularly from thousands of jerseys bearing his name.

Cheers crescendo when McDavid put an open ice hit on the flame pest Tkachuk in the first period. When McDavid’s speed pulls an interference call against Calgary’s Trevor Lewis, a deafening hoop.

That is the power that McDavid exerts. I don’t need words.

“Do you think what Connor is doing is special?” Woodcroft asked. “You don’t have to tell me that.”

McDavid doesn’t provide much insight into his excellence either. All his best stories are done on ice.

What else can you say about that? McDavid is more than just a game changer. He is a series breaker. And when heading to Game 4 on Tuesday, he blew it wide open for Edmonton (9:30 ET, ESPN) There is a chance to put Calgary on the brink of exclusion.

It will be just another day at McDavid’s office.

“Every aspect of Connor from a professional hockey player’s point of view is business oriented,” Woodcroft said. “He is driven to be the best in the world. He is driven to find a small profit every day. During the crunch time and disadvantages of the game, you are still seeing him. Someone who maintains his personality .. His play is a little more motivating. And I think this kind of effort and leadership is contagious. And it resonates with our players. I think you’re calling. “

If he wins two more times against Edmonton’s state rivals, he will do it on a bigger stage.

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