Connor McDavid scored the tenth hat-trick of his NHL career in Monday night’s 6-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets in Manitoba. It was another night where McDavid was clearly the best player on the ice, and there was nothing Winnipeg could do to stop him. McDavid now has a league-leading 81 points, and leads the Oilers with 28 goals.
It’s almost certain that he’ll hit the 30 goal mark in this truncated 56-game season. It’s also possible that he joins elite company by hitting the 100 point mark in 56 games. That hasn’t been done in over 25 years. McDavid is a special player doing special things right now.
The second goal of Monday’s hat-trick featured some deception from the MVP favorite. McDavid faked a shot and then slid the puck by Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, giving the Oilers a 3-0 lead. It didn’t look like much, but the deception fooled one of the best goalies in the world and broke the dam.
It was another wrinkle in McDavid’s game, which seems to get stronger each and every year.
“His whole game he continues to try to find ways to improve. That’s just the sign of a great player,” Oilers Head Coach Dave Tippett said on Tuesday. “I just talked about his speed, his hands but his thought process, and the deception included in that, is incredible. The way he sees things on the ice, he’s just at another level. The situations he goes into, he’ll buy time to find people coming late or have a look and know where they are and he’ll concentrate on something else but still know where that person is, that’s an incredible ability that he has.”
Not only is McDavid producing offense at a career-high clip, but he’s also playing the best defensive hockey of his career. He’s truly taken a step in that area of the game, and quite frankly there should no longer be debate as to whether or not he’s the game’s top talent.
In fact, McDavid’s dramatic push for 100 points in 56 games is drawing comparisons to the glory days, when Wayne Gretzky was chasing down scoring records at a rapid clip. It’s almost as if history is repeating itself in Northern Alberta.
Tippett, who played in the Gretzky era, was asked about the fortunes of Edmonton getting the chance to watch both players so closely.
“I think the whole League should be happy to have them,” Tippett told reporters from Winnipeg. “Ultimately, when they play in Edmonton people see them more and cheer for them more. There’s a handful of players that have a huge impact on the League and those are two guys that have been fortunate to play in Edmonton. That being said, Edmonton’s had a string of players go through there that are pretty darn good players. You watch elite, elite players like that play and it’s easy to be a fan and fun to be a fan of them.”
This season in particular has been fun to be a fan. A victory tonight in Manitoba sets the Oilers up perfectly for home-ice in the first round of the North Division playoffs in a few short weeks.