Time for Connor McDavid to live up to his reputation as the game's best

Despite undoubtedly being the best NHL player of this generation, this is one of those times when Connor McDavid must go out on the ice and actually prove it.
Edmonton Oilers v Vancouver Canucks - Game Five
Edmonton Oilers v Vancouver Canucks - Game Five / Derek Cain/GettyImages

As with Wayne Gretzky and Sidney Crosby before him, Connor McDavid is a generational talent. Ever since entering the NHL in 2015-16, he has continually proved why he is the best player in the game.

Certainly, the ever-growing list of accolades is a sight to behold with McDavid. Among other things, he has three Hart Memorial trophies, four Ted Lindsay awards and five Art Ross trophies.

However, for everything the 27-year-old has achieved, he's still missing the game's ultimate prize. While Gretkzy and Crosby have four and three Stanley Cup championships respectively, he has yet to reach the Holy Grail even once.

This season seemed to represent the best chance yet for McDavid to finally win it all, with arguably the best roster of his time in Edmonton. A roster which only improved at the trade deadline.

The 2015 first overall draft pick has done his part during these playoffs, leading all players in assists and sitting second behind teammate Leon Draisaitl in overall points as of Monday morning. And yet here we are with the Oilers fighting for their playoff lives as they enter Monday night facing a winner-takes-all game seven, versus the Canucks in Vancouver.

The winner takes it all

Now, more than ever, it's time for McDavid to prove why he is still considered the best player in the game. In many respects -- fair or not -- you can argue that this reputation is on the line, with him needing to show he can step up big when the stakes are highest.

The seven-time NHL All-Star has been here twice before, facing a game seven scenario. Once in 2017 versus the Anaheim Ducks in the second round, and then again in 2022 against the Los Angeles Kings in a first round playoff series.

McDavid did little against the Ducks, managing just on shot on goal and finishing with zero points in what turned out to a tense deciding-contest. The Oilers ultimately lost 2-1.

The outcome was more positive versus the Kings, with the Oilers captain being involved in both of his team's goals. First he provided an assist on Cody Ceci's goal and then scored himself, to clinch at 2-0 win over their divisional rivals.

Which version of McDavid will show up in Vancouver?

Now, McDavid will look to prove that he is more like the version of the player fans saw against the Kings rather than the Ducks, with everything on the line. Show once more why he is the best player in the game, someone capable of rising to the occasion.

For what it's worth, the Richmond Hill, Ontario native at least sounds like he's ready to embrace what lies ahead on Monday night. Speaking to the media following Saturday night's impressive 5-1 win, he said: "We’re looking forward to it. It’s obviously a great challenge. ... In enemy territory, it’s fun. It's a great chance for our group to come together, and go in there and get it done."

Twice already in this second round series, McDavid has finished a game with no points, which is already twice too many given the circumstances. No matter how much he does overall on the ice, it doesn't matter if he's not producing.

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If McDavid is to continue being called the best player in the game, he cannot afford to put up another zero on Monday night at Rogers Arena in Vancouver. No matter how much hockey is a team game, now is the time for him to step up or see another season of unfulfilled promise, with his dreams of Stanley Cup glory smashed into a million pieces.

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