When Connor McDavid went down with a broken collarbone, many expected his linemates — Benoit Pouliot and Nail Yakupov — to be adversely affected.
But probably not this affected.
Yakupov — who, prior to McDavid getting hurt on Nov. 3, had 10 points in 12 games — has gone in the tank offensively since losing his running mate.
The Russian’s goalless drought (which, to be fair, began while McDavid was still playing) is now at 15 games, and he’s failed to score a point in seven straight — all of which is a cause for concern for head coach Todd McLellan.
From the Edmonton Journal:
When does [McLellan] say “he’s got to score a goal.”
“We’re at that point now,” the coach said.
“He’s had some great looks,” said McLellan.
There are a few issues at play here.
Chief among them is that Yakupov’s gone from skating with Pouliot and McDavid to Mark Letestu and Matt Hendricks — and no offense to Letestu and Hendricks, but that’s a significant downgrade in offensive talent.
So when Yakupov does get time with the likes of Taylor Hall and Leon Draisaitl, it’s usually on the power play — which only ratchets up the pressure to score (because who knows when the next power play will come?)
McLellan acknowledged the team needs to set up Yakupov more — “we’ll work with his linemates to help him, we’ll get him out on the power play where his strengths are,” he said — but, like any coach, stressed that the player needs to help himself out, too.