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Connor McDavid takes big leap to excellence with Oilers’ WCF Berth | Launderer’s report

By on May 27, 2022 0

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Just two weeks ago, when his Edmonton Oilers faced elimination against a lower-ranked and perceived inferior Los Angeles Kings team, stories about Connor McDavid debated exactly how long he had endured a chronic playoff disappointment at the league’s northernmost outpost.

Blow it up. Take it out. Let the best player in the league perform on a stage that’s worth it.

It’s funny how quickly a narrative can change.

Fast forward 14 days, and after eliminating the Calgary Flames in five games – closing the series with an overtime winner – No. 97 revels in a final four under the spotlight.

To finish.

Long the star of the internet’s most clicked-on highlights — and a collector of enough summer gear to stock a junk yard — McDavid is finally within earshot of a Stanley Cup.

And if his first 12 playoff games are any prelude, we’ll see his legend continue to grow in the weeks to come and further justify the lofty comparisons he’s drawn since his days as a prospect.

SUNRISE, FL - JUNE 26: Edmonton Oilers first overall pick Connor McDavid poses for a portrait during the 2015 NHL Entry Draft at BB&T Center on June 26, 2015 in Sunrise, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

McDavid was months past his ninth birthday the last time the Oilers reached that stage of the playoffs, were snatched No. 1 in the NHL Draft nine years later and helped the Oilers secure a second-round date with Anaheim in 2017 that started with a pair of road wins but ultimately ended in a Game 7 disappointment.

He signed an eight-year, $100 million extension that summer, and optimism was high that the team would grow around its early star like the teams led by Wayne Gretzky in the early 1980s.

Same Edmonton newspaper columnist Terry Jones was all about the positive vibe.

“Good thing the Ducks won this one,” he wrote on May 10, 2017, “because it’s likely to be a while before the teams beat the Edmonton Oilers in a playoff series.

“The Orange Crush era is just beginning.”

Or… not so much.

Although he and his running mate Leon Draisaitl have combined for five goalscoring titles, three MVPs and four Ted Lindsay awards, the team has been more pedestrian than prolific when it comes to challenging the four banners that Gretzky and Mark Messier hooked up before their partnership ended in 1988.

WINNIPEG, MB - MAY 24: Connor McDavid #97 of the Edmonton Oilers shakes hands with Blake Wheeler #26 of the Winnipeg Jets following a 4-0 series sweep by the Jets in game four of the first 2021 Stanley Cup Playoff Tour at Place Bell MTS on Ma

Jonathan Kozub/Getty Images

In fact, before the current run, the Oilers have won far more games in those 2016-17 playoffs (7) than they’ve had in two appearances since (1) without ever coming close to a spot in the second turn.

And if you think it wasn’t about the NHL’s powers that be, think again.

Although he is not the league’s only big name player, it was certainly a disappointment to see its most productive athlete each year relegated to the back burner during the championship season.

Imagine Michael Jordan in Sacramento. Or Patrick Mahomes in Jacksonville.

Doesn’t move the needle much, does it?

But now, thanks no doubt to a stronger supporting cast than he’s had in years past — including free agents Evander Kane and Zach Hyman, among others — McDavid can bring mainstream attention to the feats he had largely achieved in the shadows. .

Here’s a tip: the kid is pretty good.

He produced an absurd 105 points in 56 games in 2020-21 – an average per game (1.875) beaten by exactly six players in 50 years – before climbing to a career high of 123 while playing all but two of 82 games this season. . And believe it or not, things have gotten even better since the start of the crisis.

EDMONTON, AB - APRIL 6: Connor McDavid #97 of the Edmonton Oilers and Wayne Gretzky of the Edmonton Oilers alumni pose for a photo after the farewell ceremony at Rexall Place after the game against the Vancouver Canucks on April 6 2016 at Rexall

Andy Devlin/Getty Images

His 26 points in 12 games are at least 10 more than anyone not sharing their locker room this spring and clock in at 2.17 per game, which is the fifth-highest in history for players with double-digit games. in a single playoff series. The only players to post higher ratings are Mario Lemieux and Gretzky.

This is the stuff of legendary comparisons.

And the more breathtaking his exploits, the more valid those comparisons become.

At 6’1″, 193 pounds, McDavid is quite a bit taller and heavier than Gretzky in his prime, and he’s added physicality to his game – albeit clearly a few notches below the executor – than the No. 99 never had.

He’s also a three-time winner of the Fastest Skater competition during the All-Star Weekend festivities, which wasn’t around during Gretzky’s best years but wasn’t his greatest strength anyway compared to a unique instinct. and spectacular that allowed him to see the games develop and arrive in the right places.

The game has changed to the point that there is no real shooting. McDavid is approaching the stats of his predecessor – in fact, Gretzky’s 92 goals and 215 points in separate seasons still seem otherworldly some 40 years later – but it’s reasonable to suggest that no player of the NHL (and perhaps professional sports as a whole) has created a bigger chasm between him and his peer group over the past two seasons.

Despite the differences in their skills, styles and eras, the gap between the two superstars and everyone else on the ice with them enforces their names in the same sentences with increasing regularity. McDavid still has a long way to go before his accolades and team successes approach those of Gretzky, but his stellar play in the first two rounds suggests the gap won’t stay that big for much longer.

Sit back and enjoy the show, hockey fans.

This is one you will brag about to your grandchildren.