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The McDavid Factor: A Blessing and a Curse for The Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers play a game of ‘follow the leader’ and when the captain is Connor McDavid you see why, but is it a curse?

Despite a loss on Monday night, Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid continues to lead his franchise in its best playoff run since 2006. McDavid was given the title of captain at the age of 19, making him the youngest NHL captain in history. Since then, it’s been impossible to overlook his impact as a leader, particularly in this postseason. The Oilers play a game of follow the leader; if McDavid is on fire, the rest of the team is on fire. The question is, could this come back to haunt the Edmonton Oilers?

Seldom does McDavid have an off night, but when he does, it tends to result in a loss. In the six postseason losses, McDavid has put up disappointing numbers in those games. With only a single goal and three assists coupled with a horrible +/- of -6. In the nine games the Oilers have won, McDavid recorded three goals and a whopping 18 assists with a +/- of +11. Its clear to see this follow the leader mindset and how its a two-way street. Additionally, the Oilers have only won two playoff games and lost eight games when McDavid and assistant captain Leon Draisaitl are held without a point. That goes back to the beginning of the McDavid-Draisaitl era.

Connor McDavid upset Golden Knights streak ends

Without a doubt, the Oilers need to be able to win games without the help of McDavid. During the regular season, McDavid was held off the scoresheet only 12 times in 76 games. The Oilers only managed to scrape together a 2-8-2 record from those 12 games. It’s just not good enough to only be able to win twice without the help of McDavid. Edmonton cannot rely on a single player to ‘make or break’ their team. 

What Can the Oilers do to Win Games Without McDavid?

As a result of this ‘follow the leader’ mindset, McDavid plays 25 minutes a night, and fatigue is a major concern. Edmonton has to be able to lessen McDavid’s workload while also continuing to win games, and that comes in the form of depth. Despite the quiet start, the Oilers’ depth has started to make an impact. That’s a huge addition to the lethality of this Oilers team, especially when it comes to McDavid having off nights.

The Oilers ‘follow the leader’ mindset has also gotten them into the Western Conference Finals, but one has to wonder when it’ll haunt Edmonton. The answer is that it already has. Almost every playoff loss this season is a result of McDavid struggling to find offense. The question should be, can the Oilers win games without the help of McDavid?

Next: The Changing Dynamics of the Toronto Maple Leafs Forwards

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