With his NHL season ended before the playoffs even began, Connor McDavid gets the dubious honor of leading the Canadian national team through the IIHF World Championships. And damn, is it a beautiful (if tragic) sight to behold.
Canada, which has three wins and a shootout loss to the U.S.A. so far in the preliminary round, thumped Norway today by a score of 5-0. It wasn’t quite as lopsided as their 10-0 beatdown of South Korea earlier this week, but it was the best opportunity yet to see what the most exciting player in hockey could look like as part of a talented roster that isn’t the purgatory of the Edmonton Oilers.
McDavid picked up a hat trick today, and had his third three-point game in a row. Norway is not a good team (they lost 7-0 to Finland right before this defeat), and McDavid’s third goal, despite some nifty stickhandling, still benefitted from the goalie just kind of falling on his ass. But the first two scores seen above are just a brilliant 21-year-old who might not even be in his prime yet completely imposing his will on the ice in a way that few other individuals can. I keep double checking every time I watch these goals just to confirm that Norway has five men on the ice. The extra space on international rinks is very friendly to a player like McDavid.
And even if the defense is shoddy, which it is, this is a good answer to a wistful question like, “What if Connor McDavid played for a superteam like the Lightning instead of a poorly run franchise with just one other reliably great offensive player?” If Canada stays alive in the tournament, we have about a week and a half longer to dream that dream.