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IWTG: Connor McDavid padded his stats against the Canucks

The league's leading scorer looked unstoppable as the Canucks faced the Oilers.
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The Vancouver Canucks could neither stop nor slow down Connor McDavid, as his four-point night for the Edmonton Oilers gave him 91 points this season. graphic: Dan Toulgoet and Freepik

Connor McDavid entered Monday’s game with 87 points in 49 games. That’s an incredible 146-point pace over a full 82-game schedule, which would rank as the most points in a single season since Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr lit up the league 25 years ago.

He exited Monday’s game with 91 points in 50 games, a 152-point pace that would have him knocking on the door of the top-15 greatest seasons of all time. The number two scorer in the NHL, his teammate Leon Draisaitl, has 18 fewer points. McDavid is in a league of his own.

McDavid now has six games left to reach 100 points, something that seemed like an impossibility in the shortened, 56-game schedule. That would require nine points in his final six games, a tall task for the best player on most teams. For McDavid, it seems like an inevitability.

With his four points against the Vancouver Canucks on Monday, McDavid has 27 points in his last 11 games. Nine points in six games seem, quite frankly, trivial.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that four of his six remaining games are against the Canucks. McDavid now has seven goals and 12 points in six games against the Canucks this season. 

At this point, it’s less a question of whether McDavid will reach 100 points but when. Heck, maybe he’ll break the record shared by Wayne Gretzky and Sam Gagner for points in a game by a member of the Edmonton Oilers and put up nine points on Tuesday night to reach 100 points. 

I wouldn’t put it past him, unlike the several pucks he helped put past Braden Holtby when I watched this game.

  • Honestly, this game wasn’t as bad as some of the recent Canucks efforts. Heck, without the empty net goal at the end, this was a one-goal game. Yes, the Oilers out-shot and out-chanced the Canucks, but it wasn’t the worst effort for the first game back from a road trip. Now they’ll get a chance to rest up and — what’s that? They’re playing again tomorrow night? Oh no.
     
  • Normally goaltenders bail out their defencemen with a big save. Early in the first, it was the other way around, as Travis Hamonic came up with a huge save on James Neal after Holtby kicked out an ugly rebound. Careful, Alex Edler, Hamonic is gunning for your job.
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  • The Oilers opened the scoring a few minutes later. Nate Schmidt missed a pass from Alex Edler and lost the puck along the boards. A couple of quick passes later and Jesse Puljujarvi had an open net. Tanner Pearson was far too slow off the boards after losing the puck battle with Puljujarvi, so he was wide open.
     
  • Looking at the Canucks’ lineup heading into this game, the line of Matthew Highmore, Tyler Graovac, and Jayce Hawryluk raised some red flags. Surprisingly, they had a strong game together, playing a simple energy game: getting the puck deep, forechecking hard, winning board battles, and harassing puck carriers.
     
  • “They turned over pucks, they hung onto pucks in the offensive zone,” said Green. “I thought you're exactly right on how that line looked.”
     
  • One of those strong shifts from the Graovac line preceded a goal. They created some mayhem in the offensive zone and forced a clearance, which allowed the Canucks to make a line change and bring out the top line while maintaining possession of the puck. That led to a beautiful give-and-go interchange between Schmidt and J.T. Miller at the blue line, giving Schmidt room to walk in to the top of the faceoff circle and rip a shot past Mikko Koskinen to tie the game.
     
  • “Anytime you can get momentum from a group and anytime you can get something that's gonna propel your other lines, no matter who it is, what D pair, what line is out there doing it, it is contagious,” said Schmidt. “You feed off each other and you feed off a shift like that where your guys are out there, they're grinding and you know that they're putting in the hard work and grinding them down. So that allows your next guys to go out and have a chance at maybe a tired group and tired D-pair that have been out there for a while...It doesn't show up as much on the stat sheet but that's something that makes a huge difference for the guys that are coming over the boards next.”
     
  • This wasn’t Pearson’s game. He didn’t check Puljujarvi on the first goal. On the second, he iced the puck unnecessarily and, on the subsequent faceoff, didn’t take Tyson Barrie going to the net, where he pounced on a pass from Puljujarvi and shoveled it five-hole. 
     
  • McDavid had an assist on both of the first two goals, then added a goal himself later in the second period. He grabbed a puck in the neutral zone after Bo Horvat bobbled it, then charged down the left wing. His stick hit the stick of Travis Hamonic as he shot the puck, causing Holtby to misread the shot. It bounced off the bottom of his glove like he was Bill Buckner and squiggled over the goal line. 
     
  • J.T. Miller had a response. After Nils Höglander and Brock Boeser worked to get the puck over the blue line, Miller jumped on a loose puck, drove around Ryan McLeod, and made a quick move to the backhand to beat Koskinen. It was the slickest move since the Fonz went to comb his hair then decided he already looked perfect.
     
  • “I just saw the puck kind of bounce to me, I knew it was going to be a little breakdown and I thought I had more speed than he did,” said Miller. “Once I got around him, I just kind of made up my mind. I didn't have a whole lot of time, so I just had to lift it, no matter which way I went.”
     
  • The Oilers restored their two-goal lead in the final minute of the second period with some crisp passing off the rush. A poorly-timed line change by Zack Macewen as the Oilers rushed up ice meant Dominic Kahun was wide open as the trailer. Poor Brock Boeser had no chance to get back to cover him.
     
  • Boeser got the Canucks back within one by doing what he does best: sending the puck from point A to point B in the most direct way possible. Bo Horvat won a faceoff directly back to Boeser and he turned on the puck like it had betrayed him after years of close, personal friendship sending the puck as far away as possible as quickly as possible, just inside the near post. 
     
  • That was as close as they would come. With Holtby pulled for the extra attacker, Tyler Myers blasted a shot from the point directly into Josh Archibald’s shin pads instead of looking for a better scoring chance. On the ensuing rush, the puck came around to McDavid, who padded his point total with the empty net goal.