Last night, the Edmonton Oilers sent a message. They will not be an easy out for anyone in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs. They especially won’t be an easy out for the Winnipeg Jets, who they demolished by a final score of 6-1 in Winnipeg on Monday night.
It was Edmonton’s fifth straight victory over the Jets, a win that pushed their overall record against them to 6-2-0 on the season. The Oilers now sit a point ahead of the Jets with two games in hand as both teams hit the final stretch drive. The second seed in the North Division, and home-ice in the first round of the playoffs, is squarely in Edmonton’s sights now.
There were many reasons for Edmonton’s victory on Monday night, but the main reasons were Connor McDavid and Mike Smith. McDavid scored four points (3 g, 1 a), and now has a league-leading 81 points on the season. Smith, meanwhile, made 36 saves and settled things down early while the Oilers were trying to get their footing.
“He’s been amazing all year for us, he’s been keeping us in games,” Leon Draisaitl, who scored a goal and an assist of his own, said of Smith’s night. “He helps our D out, he helps us break out the puck a lot. It’s huge to have someone back there that you trust and you can rely on. He had another great night.”
McDavid, meanwhile, had another one of his nights that set Twitter ablaze. He scored his tenth career hat-trick in the NHL, and slammed the door shut on anyone else trying to get their hands on the Hart Trophy. He dominated this game. There was nothing anyone on the Jets could do.
“I’m sure there are some players that have played very well, but from my vantage point I get to watch him every night, and I know what he does for our team,” Head Coach Dave Tippett said about McDavid’s impact on the Oilers this season. “It would be hard to imagine a player had more of an impact on their team than Connor has on ours.”
Draisaitl, who has been riding alongside McDavid basically since day one, agreed. “The sky’s the limit,” the big German, who passed Marco Sturm for the most points by a German National NHL’er on Monday, added.
Meanwhile, Ryan McLeod made a quiet NHL debut for the Oilers on Monday. The 40th overall pick in 2018, McLeod played a hair over 14 minutes, won three of five faceoffs, drew a penalty and added some speed to Edmonton’s bottom-six. Don’t take quiet as a bad thing. McLeod did everything he was asked to do, and caught our eye a few times with his speed in transition.
“I think I played hard, used my speed pretty well and won some faceoffs,” McLeod said when asked about his debut postgame. “It was nice being out there and I think I helped the team get the job done.”
If the Oilers can get the job done on Wednesday night, home-ice in the first round will squarely be in their sights.