How are things going for the Islanders these days? I was at an ostensible Islanders bar last night, with about 15 TVs in the place, and only one screen—one of the smaller ones—had the Islanders-Oilers game on. And not with sound.
Not that things are much better in Edmonton. I wouldn’t have wished watching last night’s game on anyone, a scoreless affair through two until Thomas Hickey got the Isles on the board. Then, with 1:50 remaining, Connor McDavid ruined Christopher Gibson’s shutout with a sharp-angle shot and tied the game.
It was McDavid’s 31st goal of the year, a new career high in his third season.
“He just takes over the game when he wants to,” said Oilers goalie Cam Talbot. “He has that ability on any given night. In a one-goal game, that is who you want on the ice. You know he is going to do something special at some point.”
McDavid pretty much took over late, earning a penalty shot in overtime (he hit the post) and then scoring the shootout winner, and what the hell is a goalie supposed to do against moves like this?
It’s been another incredible season for McDavid, even as the Oilers have struggled. With 15 games remaining, he’s at 81 points, just six back of the league leader. He’s still just 21 years old. As good as these numbers are, he’s got so, so much ahead of him.
McDavid’s surge has been earning him some chatter as a potential Hart candidate, which is in turn spurring that tired old debate about whether an MVP need come from a playoff team. Let’s not do that and instead stipulate that Nikita Kucherov should win the Hart, entirely independent of the standings.
At least McDavid’s promise (and his present) gives Oilers fans a reason for hope, even toward the end of a lost season. Meanwhile on the other side of the ice, John Tavares is about to be a free agent, and says “this isn’t a whole lot of fun right now.” Oh.