Nathan MacKinnon, David Pastrnak and others are firmly in the conversation for the Hart Trophy, but Connor McDavid reminded everyone why he is unanimously praised as the most electric player in the NHL.
McDavid recorded a goal and three assists in the Edmonton Oilers’ 6-4 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs Monday. He also submitted an entry for the mythical goal-of-the-year competition when he undressed defenseman Morgan Rielly and slipped a puck past Michael Hutchinson. McDavid collected his 24th goal of the season and League-leading 69th point.
“We just gave him way too much space,” Auston Matthews said of McDavid. “He’s the most dangerous player in the world for a reason so when you just let him fly through the neutral zone with the speed [and] skill he has, he’s going to make us pay. That’s what he did tonight.”
The Oilers moved into third place in the Pacific Division with the victory but have played three more games than the Vancouver Canucks who trail only by a point in the standings. Edmonton is not a Stanley Cup favorite by any stretch of the imagination, but the St. Louis Blues’ championship journey last season proved that any team can make an improbable run.
“When you’ve got Connor McDavid, the window is now. The time is now,” Oilers GM Ken Holland said in an interview with Sportsnet 590 earlier in the day.
The Maple Leafs have been playing a better style of hockey since the organization moved on from Mike Babcock. Sheldon Keefe has posted a 15-5-1 record since assuming the head coaching responsibilities.
However, Toronto abandoned its structure and forced Keefe to pull Frederik Andersen at 1:45 of the second period after Edmonton scored three goals on its first 19 shots. Toronto’s 10-game point streak was also snapped in the loss.
“We left Freddie out to dry,” Matthews told reporters. “For a guy like him who does so much for us night in, night out, brick wall for us every night, the chances we were giving them, it’s not fair to leave him out to dry. It’s definitely not on Freddie at all.”
The Maple Leafs have five games remaining before the bye and All-Star weekend, four of which are in Scotiabank Arena. The opportunity is there for Toronto to end the first half of the season on a positive note and keep the surging Tampa Bay Lightning in the rear-view mirror.
Scott Charles is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.