With Connor McDavid sidelined, it’s time for Leon Draisaitl to place the Oilers on his again
Arguably crucial stretch for any workforce within the playoff image is the few weeks main as much as the commerce deadline. It’s these few weeks that usually decide whether or not a workforce will purchase or whether or not they’re destined to be sellers. It’s these few weeks the place essential factors can both be made up or dropped, by no means to be recovered. And it’s these few weeks when groups can both fall utterly aside or develop into galvanized earlier than making that all-important push into the post-season.
So, suffice to say that given we’re three weeks out from the deadline, there couldn’t have presumably been a worse second for the Edmonton Oilers to study that they’ll be with out Connor McDavid, essentially the most game-changing offensive power in all the NHL, for that very stretch.
Chatting with media Tuesday afternoon, Oilers GM Ken Holland introduced that McDavid, who suffered a lower-body damage in Saturday’s victory over the Nashville Predators, will miss wherever from two to a few weeks with a quad ailment. Holland added that the damage, which is unrelated to the knee damage McDavid suffered on the finish of final season, was revealed by an MRI, and that the hope inside the Oilers’ group is that the captain’s timeline for restoration can truly be a contact quicker than the preliminary prognosis.
With out query, this can be a doubtlessly season-altering damage with which the Oilers should contend, and the timeline is worrisome, to say the least. On the low finish, McDavid will miss wherever from seven to eight video games if he’s out of motion precisely two weeks from Tuesday’s announcement. If it’s three weeks, the quantity stretches to the dozen-game mark. McDavid may miss the equal of about 15 p.c of the marketing campaign. And that his time on the sideline is coming with the commerce freeze within the offing – Holland stated “sure and no” when requested if McDavid’s damage impacts deadline plans, with the win-loss file the true deciding issue – means Edmonton’s pre- and presumably post-deadline future shall be decided within the absence of their most vital participant.
That doesn’t imply all hope is misplaced, nevertheless, if for no different cause than the presence of Leon Draisaitl, who has the prospect to indicate as soon as and for all that he may be the one to place the Oilers on his again in a time of want.
Draisaitl, after all, isn’t some also-ran, sneaky-good scorer not recognized the league over. He’s a star in his personal proper, the league’s main scorer and among the many NHL’s most prolific offensive gamers over the previous few seasons. Solely McDavid, the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Nikita Kucherov and Colorado Avalanche’s Nathan MacKinnon have extra factors than Draisaitl for the reason that begin of the 2017-18 marketing campaign, and although it’s McDavid who was the Hart Trophy frontrunner at mid-season, it’s Draisaitl who enters this pivotal time in Edmonton’s season main the pack within the Artwork Ross Trophy race. His 85 factors put him 4 away from McDavid, seven forward of the Boston Bruins’ David Pastrnak and 9 up on MacKinnon. No different participant is inside 10 factors of Draisaitl.
There’s, nevertheless, an assertion from those that solely watch the Oilers from a distance that Draisaitl is basically a product of McDavid. That could be a sure model of nonsense.
Have the 2 frolicked collectively this marketing campaign? Undeniably. Draisaitl’s most typical linemate this season has been McDavid, the Oilers’ two-headed monster spending greater than 800 minutes alongside each other in any respect strengths. However the inclusion of energy play minutes and time beyond regulation ice time skews the numbers, and the silver lining – although there’s some hesitation calling it that – is that Oilers coach Dave Tippett has been splitting McDavid and Draisaitl. For the higher a part of the previous two months, the 2 have been what Edmonton believed they might be: a one-two punch extra akin to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin than Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron. Put one other manner, they’re standing on their very own two toes as a pair of line-centering pivots, not two towers of energy on one superhuman line.
To wit, by the primary 29 video games of the Oilers season, McDavid and Draisaitl spent 410 minutes at one another’s facet at 5-on-5, the latter solely spending 51 five-a-side minutes with out the previous. However since Dec. 1, when the choice to separate the 2 was starting to take root, Draisaitl has performed 297 minutes at 5-on-5 with out McDavid and 127 alongside the Oilers famous person. Moreover, over the previous 15 video games, the separation has develop into all of the extra outlined: 207 minutes with out McDavid and 30 with McDavid for Draisaitl. And that is likely to be simply what he wanted to arrange for a second when the highlight on No. 29 shall be shining brighter than ever earlier than.
In actual fact, right here’s the half the place we recommend that the Oilers would possibly be capable of navigate this era with out falling aside utterly. Although there’s one thing to be stated for McDavid’s line drawing consideration away from another unit, which could in flip open up some additional ice or afford the second line the chance to skate out towards weaker defensive opposition, Draisaitl’s 5-on-5 on-ice numbers are price noting. Since getting back from the vacation break, Draisaitl has a 51.1 Corsi share, 55.5 photographs share, 52.6 anticipated objectives share and whopping 66.7 objectives share at five-a-side when enjoying with out McDavid. The cherry on high? Draisaitl is managing these numbers regardless of taking greater than half of his faceoffs within the defensive zone.
It ought to be stated, too, that Draisaitl has confirmed over this time that he can produce even when he’s not on McDavid’s hip. In the course of the opening two months when the Oilers’ large weapons had been nearly inseparable, Draisaitl scored 48 factors in 28 video games, 1.71 factors per recreation. And whereas his charge has admittedly dropped within the time since, Draisaitl has maintained a charge of scoring of 1.37 factors per recreation since Dec. 1 (37 factors in 27 video games) and has 1.60 factors per recreation since Dec. 25 (24 factors in 15 video games) for the reason that separation turned its most distinct.
So, whereas true that the Oilers assault shall be weakened with out McDavid, that Edmonton has a safety blanket within the form of Draisaitl offers cause to imagine, even when with essentially the most cautious ranges of optimism, they’ll make it out the opposite facet with their post-season hopes intact. And that’s all of the Oilers can actually do proper now: hope and imagine that Draisaitl can do what’s essential to preserve the playoff dream alive. No strain.
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Tags: edmonton oilersConnect: In regards to the AuthorJared ClintonJared Clinton is a author and internet editor with The Hockey Information. He is been with the workforce since 2014. He was born, raised and resides in Winnipeg, the place he may be discovered lacking the web on out of doors rinks throughout city.