2) Connor McDavid
Traditionally, anything approaching criticising Connor McDavid was perceived as akin to blasphemy. However, the best player in the world has been receiving a fair bit of grief recently from fans, not that we think the rationale is justified.
No, our reason for stating McDavid has a lot to prove on this four-game road trip, comes purely down to his play on the ice. Quite simply, he’s not performing well so far this season.
Admittedly this ties in with the ridiculously high level and standard the five-time Art Ross Trophy winner usually achieves. Just last season he scored a career-high 153 points (64 goals and 89 assists), which were the most by a player since Mario Lemieux during the 1995-96 season.
As such, while 13 points in 13 games is pretty damn good for an NHL player to achieve, it just isn’t good enough for someone with the talent of McDavid. And really, he’s one of the main reasons why the Oilers have underachieved so far in 2023-24.
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There was some suggestion the four-time Ted Lindsay Award winner returned from his recent injury too soon, such was his desire to help turn around the fortunes of the team. However, the reality is he wasn’t playing particularly well even before his absence.
To highlight this, at one point McDavid equalled his career-worst of an eight-game goalless drought. Fortunately for everyone concerned, he seems to finally be trending in the right direction.
The six-time All-Star has scored goals in his past two games, versus the Islanders and Kraken respectively. However, more is still needed from him, as evidenced by the Oilers entering Saturday’s action ranked a lowly 23rd in average goals, at 2.87 per contest.
We know the Oilers are more than capable of returning to a level close to that which led the NHL in goals scored last season. They’re still right at the top of the league when it comes to creating chances but now it’s a case of actually finishing them off more efficiently, starting with the captain.