Connor McDavid scalding hot entering Oilers' home-and-home vs. Jets
Can anyone stop Connor McDavid?
The Winnipeg Jets will be the latest to attempt to do so when they visit the Edmonton Oilers in the opener of a back-to-back home-and-home set on Friday.
McDavid has been tearing through the season and leads the NHL across the board offensively, with 52 goals and 66 assists for 118 points. The latter is 28 points more than teammate Leon Draisaitl, who sits second.
"Just to see (McDavid) do it in person, it's pretty cool," newly acquired defenseman Mattias Ekholm said. "It's like nobody else, right? Those two guys can really do it offensively. It's a pleasure to sit there on the bench and watch them do their thing."
The Oilers captain has five consecutive multi-goal games and 21 points (10 goals, 11 assists) in an eight-game point streak. He's had multiple points in all but one of those games during the streak.
"Sometimes it just goes in," McDavid said of his goal streak. "I felt like I was playing good hockey kind of before, and it just wasn't going in for me. Then you kind of get a bounce and it seems to go in for you. So it's a funny game that way."
Two days after trading for Ekholm from the Nashville Predators, the Oilers made another move Thursday by acquiring forward Nick Bjugstad and defenseman Cam Dineen from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for defenseman Michael Kesselring and a 2023 third-round draft pick. Bjugstad is the centerpiece of the deal, with 13 goals, 10 assists and 119 hits this season.
Edmonton is third in the Pacific Division after handling the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2 on Wednesday. They're 13-5-6 since the calendar flipped to 2023.
"We've been trending in the right direction post-Christmas," coach Jay Woodcroft said. "Against two of the best teams in the league this week at home we played the game the right way. Part of that is offensively, part of that is defensively."
The Jets, meanwhile, are trying to halt a 1-5-1 slide, including an 0-3-1 stretch in their past four. They were second in the Central Division after a third straight win on Feb. 14 but their current skid has dropped them to the second wild card in the Western Conference.
"We're in the top eight. We don't like where we are but there's enough games left to move up," coach Rick Bowness said. "Our goal going into training camp was to make the playoffs and then as the season progresses, you try to move up in the standings as best you can. That hasn't changed."
Winnipeg had scored two goals or fewer in the first five defeats of the stretch before potting five in a 6-5 shootout loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday. It had 31 shots on goal in the defeat, the first time since Feb. 16 with more than 30.
"When we start shooting the puck more, like we did (against the Kings), the puck is eventually going to go in for you," Bowness said. "The most important thing is what we talked about (Tuesday) morning and practice (Wednesday): Drive the net, shoot the puck, drive the net. We keep doing that, then the results are going to be there."
Pierre-Luc Dubois, who missed the game Tuesday with a lower-body injury and has not practiced with the team since, skated on his own Thursday but is deemed "doubtful" for Friday's tilt. Bowness is hopeful he can return for the rematch on Saturday.
--Field Level Media
Updated March 2, 2023