Is this Connor McDavid’s year?
The Edmonton Oilers are in the Western Conference Final for the fist time in 16 years. For Connor McDavid, he wouldn’t know anything about that, but from his own experience it’s been a rough 7 seasons.
Since his rookie campaign in 2015-16, the Oilers have made the playoffs three times and took a shocking loss in the Qualifiers to the Chicago Blackhawks in 2019-2020 Return to Play format.
Before these playoffs, McDavid had one playoff series win under his belt in 2016-17 (sophomore season). The Oilers took out the San Jose Sharks in 6 games then fell to the Anaheim Ducks in 7.
McDavid’s Oilers missed the playoffs the next two seasons and then had that awful 3-1 series loss to the Hawks during the pandemic. Edmonton would follow that up by being swept by the Winnipeg Jets last year. A team they were 9 points better than in the regular-season.
Connor McDavid feeling it in these playoffs
McDavid picked up only a single point in Game 5 and it was a big one. His goal 5:03 into overtime gave the visiting Edmonton Oilers a 5-4 victory over the Calgary Flames to advance them to the Western Conference Final.
“It means everything to me and this group,” McDavid said. “We’ve been through a lot of ups and downs, and this is one of the ups.”
The Oilers will now take on the heavily favored Colorado Avalanche, who haven’t been to a Conference Final in 20 years. It will be a true battle of wills between two star-studded teams.
Although the brightest star in the NHL today is McDavid and he’s totally feeling it in these playoffs.
“He’s our leader, he’s our go-to guy. He’s the guy that everyone looks up to when you need him. He’s done it all season, he’s done it all his career,” said Draisaitl. “Last two months or last month or whatever it has been, he’s been amazing for us. Eventually you just kind of run out of words.”
McDavid and Draisaitl are co-leaders in playoff scoring with 26 points each (7G – 19A). What makes Connor the current Conn Smythe Trophy favorite as playoff MVP is his defensive work which has him at a +19 to lead all players this postseason.
Kudos from Wayne Gretzky
The greatest hockey player to ever play the game knows something about special performances. Wayne Gretzky called McDavid’s play “unreal” and this is a man that won four Stanley Cups in Edmonton.
McDavid had an amazing regular-season and is up for the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s MVP. He is also up for the Ted Lindsay Award and won the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s leading scorer for the 4th time. He did so by amassing a career-high 123 points (44 goals, 79 assists) in 80 games this season.
“Auston Matthews will get a lot of votes and is very deserving of the Hart Trophy (if he wins it) but I just really felt over the last 25 games of the season, Connor put the team on his back and has gone to another level,’’ Gretzky said.The Athletic (Subscription Required)
McDavid, 25, is the reigning Hart winner and also won it in 2017. He is trying to become just the ninth player in NHL history to take home the award at least three times. If he takes home the honor he will be third player in league history to do so before the age of 26 (Gretzky and Bobby Orr).
So is this McDavid’s year to win the Stanley Cup? That will begin to be answered on Tuesday night when the Oilers and Avalanche get to work.