Over the summer, I linked to some article about how Connor McDavid worked harder than usual in training this summer because he felt he had to get better in a number of areas. The joke I made was the obvious one: When you’re basically the whole offense, only scoring 108 points in a season isn’t gonna cut it.
Sadly for the Oilers, through three games, Connor McDavid literally has been the entire offense.
Not that you want to draw too many conclusions from three games’ worth of data, but Edmonton hasn’t scored a single goal with McDavid off the ice. In fact, he scored two of them and assisted on the other three. So that joke about McDavid being the only reason the Oilers were going to score this season, well, it doesn’t seem so funny anymore.
He had two assists in the loss to New Jersey, scored the only goal in the loss to Boston, and of course scored the power-play game-winner after setting up the tying goal in the first period. And it wasn’t a bad goal, either. The kind of play few players on the planet can make, taking an off-the-mark seeing-eye pass off his right skate, switching it to his backhand with no space, and getting it through two bodies.
It becomes easy, then, to say the Oilers’ problem is secondary scoring, but that’s honestly not the half of it. Edmonton has outscored opponents 5-4 with McDavid on, meaning it’s being outscored 0-6 when he’s off. But given that he’s playing 24 minutes a night and only one of his goals against has been at 5-on-5, I think we can forgive what you might fairly call a leaky defensive game to this point.
And you might say, “Ah, well, you can call that bad luck; the Oilers are shooting 0 percent with McDavid off.” And that’s true I guess. But with the best player in the world sitting on the bench, the Oilers have a pathetic 36 shots on goal in 108 minutes or so; the same number they have with McDavid on the ice. At 5-on-5, he’s a little overwhelmed in terms of possession (a shade under 49 percent), but that number drops into the 46 percent range when he’s taking a breather. And 46 percent is really, really bad.
This is gonna shock you, but it looks like Leon Draisaitl isn’t living up to the $8.5 million contract McDavid earned for him a couple years ago, because playing on a separate line (with Kailer Yamamoto and Milan Lucic) has produced pitiable results in just about every facet, but let’s put it this way: While all his scoring has obviously run through McDavid to one extent or another, Draisaitl has only been on the ice for 11 SOG in more than 38 minutes without No. 97.
The question, then, becomes how you fix this problem, and for Todd McLellan there just doesn’t seem to be a lot of viable solutions. How do you mix up this lineup, with this wing depth, and make things work? If, for instance, you move Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to his own line, or to Draisaitl’s, that probably just bumps Milan Lucic up a spot because you can’t in good faith throw the team’s only other listed left wing — Jujhar Khaira — on McDavid’s line and expect anything of note. And because your only other converted-center options are Zack Kassian and Ryan Strome, that leaves you in a bad spot as well.
At some point, Edmonton is going to score with Connor McDavid off the ice. But the way things are going, if they even score 40 percent of the goals in that situation over the course of the season, it’ll feel like a miracle.
Arizona Coyotes: This is the third time Arizona has been shutout in four games so far this year. They’ve outshot plus-53. Doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Buffalo Sabres: Here’s Rasmus Dahlin’s first career goal. Wow!
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) October 14, 2018
Calgary Flames: Well, Bill Peters is already at that part of the season so I would say things are going well.
Carolina Hurricanes: Will have a bigger take on this later in the week but these guys look real scary.
Chicago Blackhawks: I also love to go to overtime.
Colorado Avalanche: Looks like Nathan MacKinnon picked up where he left off last year; he has six goals in five games. Which, it’s weird that so far this season that’s barely even remarkable.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Sometimes you gotta play the Lightning, y’know?
Dallas Stars: Nice to battle back I guess but when the other team gives up 50 shots you should probably score a bunch of goals, I would say.
Detroit Red Wings: All the empty seats in Detroit are so bad the arena is changing them from red to black to be less embarrassing.
Edmonton Oilers: The Edmonton media really is pathetic if they’re calling barely beating the Rangers “two big points.”
Florida Panthers: These guys haven’t won yet? Uhhh…
Los Angeles Kings: Jack Campbell gave up four goals on 11 shots to the Senators so things aren’t going great for him.
Minnesota Wild: You get the feeling Devan Dubnyk is gonna need to stand on his head all year for this team to get results.
Montreal Canadiens: The Habs realllllllly took it to Pittsburgh in a shootout win. The Pens were frankly lucky to get a point out of the game, which is a weird thing to say about these Canadiens.
Nashville Predators: Oh yeah, Auston Watson’s girlfriend is saying that whole thing was her fault. Awesome awesome awesome. You love to see that, for sure. Very chill and cool.
New Jersey Devils: The Devils outscored opponents 11-2 in their first two games. Okay, that Edmonton one, whatever, but if you beat Washington 6-0, I dunno, that’s probably good.
New York Islanders: I mean it feels about right that these guys can’t beat Nashville, right?
New York Rangers: Very bad team. Worse than we thought, probably.
Ottawa Senators: Shoutout to the banged-up Sens for going with the 11F/7D lineup. It’s the future of hockey!
Philadelphia Flyers: If one more Flyers forward gets hurt this month, they all get a free cheesesteak at Pat’s. It’s an epidemic.
Pittsburgh Penguins: This is one of those “oh, no thanks” injuries to look at. Don’t watch it.
San Jose Sharks: Please do not compare the Sharks to Mumford and Sons. I don’t want to think about whether Joe Thornton likes psychotic Jordan Peterson videos about why Disney princesses are making the NHL soft.
St. Louis Blues: Losing in OT after a three-goal comeback is a tough way to take an L, honestly.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Took ’em a while, but they went from scoring no power play goals in two games to scoring four in No. 3 alone, so that feels about right.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Matthews only scored once on Saturday night. Loser.
Vancouver Canucks: Honestly, the Matheson hit on Elias Pettersson wasn’t good or anything, but it wasn’t dirty either. If we’re being rational, we’ve all seen that hit 100 times. It definitely sucks but this is the league people want.
Vegas Golden Knights: That was a nice little game for Fleury on Saturday afternoon. He needed it.
Washington Capitals: Caps outscored 10-2 in their last couple games here. Not great.
Winnipeg Jets: Yeah I have a pretty good feeling that Ehlers and Laine will start scoring soon.
Gold Star Award
Sebastian Aho is at it again. He’s up to 4-6-10 in five games, which to me seems good.
Minus of the Weekend
There are so many bad teams in the league this year. It’s honestly a little upsetting.
Play of the Weekend
Is this save good? Fleury made like three of this exact quality to get the shutout. Can’t say he didn’t earn it.
Perfect HFBoards Trade Proposal of the Week
User “780oil” is trying to game the system.
To Ottawa: Jesse Puljujarvi, 2019 1st (top 10 protected), 2020 2nd, Dmitri Samurukov, Andrej Sekera (LTIR), Zach Kassian/Matt Benning
To Edmonton: Mark Stone (handshake extension 8 years x 7.25 to 7.75 million) , Ryan Dzingel (4 year x 2.895 million extension agreed upon)
Ay, que dia miserable a trabajo.
(All stats via Corsica unless otherwise noted.)
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