The NHL is an infuriating league to follow but every once in a while the game of hockey provides us moments in which we remember why we watch it.
Connor McDavid scored one of the most impressive high-speed plays in the history of the game Monday night in the Edmonton bubble against the Chicago Hawks.
McDavid is circling in his defensive zone and charges into high speed on the breakout, corralling the puck in the air at his own blue line and barrels down the right wing. On the other side of the ice, Slater Koekkoek has a head start going back to his defensive zone and has no hope of impeding McDavid in any way. His defensive partner Oli Maata has fine positioning and McDavid goes wide and blows by him in two steps. Not satisfied with making the Hawks defenders shit their pants, he casually backhands it past goalie Corey Crawford on the short side. He knew exactly where he wanted the puck to go. It’s a 1-on-3 goal as there’s not even an Edmonton teammate in the offensive zone to distract anyone from McJesus, who finished with his first postseason hat trick.
There have always been a number of great skaters and goal scorers (Pavel Bure and Peter Bondra come to mind) in hockey, of course, but no one in the history of the game combines the breakneck speed, agility, and the mind and hands to make plays at that top speed. Many of the game’s greats, like Mario Lemieux, Wayne Gretzky, and Sid Crosby make plays by slowing the game down, playing it like a Chessmaster, always two moves ahead of their opponents. Connor McDavid plays the game like Yngwie Malmsteen.
McDavid does amazing things like this on a regular basis, so here’s a highlight video in case you want to argue some of his other plays are better.