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Edmonton Oilers: Connor McDavid’s Faceoff Woes
When Sidney Crosby came into the league, he was an immediate smash. ‘Sid the Kid’ lost the Calder Trophy to Alex Ovechkin, but he topped 100 points and gave hope to the fans in Pittsburgh. Crosby was a game-changer except in the face-off dot. Crosby won only 45.5 percent of his draws that first year, so he worked on it. By his third season, Crosby was pretty decent. By his fifth season, he was one of the best in the NHL.
Which brings me to Connor McDavid, the young Edmonton Oilers captain with the world on a string. In his injury-truncated rookie campaign, McDavid won just 41.2 percent of his draws. Last season, as a healthy sophomore, he nudged up to 43.2 percent. That’s weak sauce from one of the best players in the world, but as history has shown, it’s to be expected. And McDavid is well aware he needs to work on his dot play.
But it’s hard to work on faceoffs in the summer.
The best drawmen know the tricks of the trade and McDavid is still young. But like the polite and straight-arrow guy he is, McDavid won’t accuse his opponents of dabbling in the dark arts to win pucks over him.
He played an average of 21 minutes a game last season, beating buddy Leon Draisaitl by more than two minutes to lead the Oilers forwards. And with McDavid’s blinding speed and stickhandling ability, he’s going to be one of the most dangerous players in the NHL once again.
His first dabble in the playoffs will also motivate him. Where he and his young crew dispatched veteran San Jose Sharks, before falling with honor in seven games to Anaheim.
And while statistics have proven that winning faceoffs is much less important than what happens to the puck once play begins, is earnest. It is crucial in clutch situations, like, say, a team protecting a one-goal lead late in a playoff game.
McDavid knows the stakes, but he also knows that just getting to the playoffs is a challenge. Whether or not the Oilers have a target on their backs as potential favorites in the West.
As Connor McDavid continues to launch into hockey’s stratosphere, look for the Oilers to follow along behind him….This is only the beginning for the superstar center.
Pucking Hockey’s predictions for the 2017-2018 NHL season refer here.
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