Heading into the season, there was talk of McDavid winning Art Ross and Hart trophies. I was a bit skeptical because hey, he's just 19. He's just in his 2nd year. He missed half a season and will have to grind through a full NHL season.
So yeah, nuts to all that. McDavid is freaking great. For the 2nd game in a row he carried the Oilers to a victory over the Flames, a team the Oilers hadn't had anything resembling success against the past 2 seasons.
This was looking like a game that not even McDavid could save early on, as the Flames jumped out to an early lead and dominated the Oilers, out shooting them 24-12 and just making life miserable for the Oilers on their breakout, hemming them in quite bit with their forecheck. The Oilers were lucky to escape being down just 2-1, thanks to a Connor McDavid breakaway goal.
Pro-tip: Maybe don't let him have those. I mean keep doing it for our sake, but for yours, maybe try and eliminate that.
The 2nd period on was a much better showing as the Oilers controlled the play, despite a pair of bad penalties by Pouliot. The Oilers PK, especially the forwards, did a great job preventing Calgary from gaining the zone and kept pressure on the puck all around the ice. So much gets made about how to kill penalties in your own zone, but it gets far easier when the puck isn't in your zone. Speaking of power plays, the Oilers got their own PP goal as Eberle banged home the only goal of the period after the Oilers crashed the net.
One of the stories of the first 5 periods of this season has been Milan Lucic. To put it bluntly, he'd been pretty awful. The play was constantly dying on his stick. and he looked pretty awful on a shorthanded goal against in game 1, and pretty disinterested in general in his own end. He finally got on track in the 3rd period of this game, picking up a pair of assists including a nice feed on the power play on Leon Draisaitl's first goal. His 2nd assist (on another Draisaitl goal), was the Milan Lucic the Oilers figured they were getting when they signed him. He fought off several checks to keep the puck out of the Oilers zone, then got the puck to Draisiatl who cruised to an empty net goal.
In the end though, this was a McDavid game. When he was on the ice, the Oilers dominated. When he wasn't they got their teeth kicked in.
5v5 Corsi% tonight:— Jonathan Willis (@JonathanWillis) October 15, 2016
- McDavid: +20/-15, 57%
- Other EDM centres: +13/-35, 27%
I don't have words for how good McDavid is.
He played a team high 22 minutes (yes, that includes defensemen) and made the Flames look ridiculous on multiple occasions. The Oilers have to find something other than McDavid that works or it's going to be a long, brutal season.
The Pouliot, RNH line needs to find a winger to play with them and Puljujarvi isn't NHL ready.
Zack Kassian had himself a decent game (especially on the PK), though he went hunting on the first Flames goal which ended up with an odd man situation in the Oilers end that they couldn't recover from. He simplified his game after that, which is good news for the Oilers because they are going to need someone to step up and fill the giant holes they have on the non-McDavid lines.
2-0 to start the season, a games against Buffalo and Carolina coming up, and for the first time in a while, the Oilers could start out a season not well behind the eight ball.