EDMONTON — As good as Connor McDavid is, or may one day be, this order was simply too tall.
A Central Division tour for his first four games — including two against the burly, tight-as-a-drum St. Louis Blues — was too much. In his home opener Thursday night at Rexall Place, with an entire crowd decked out in the Oilers’ new orange third jersey, McDavid didn’t have the puck on his stick long enough for anyone to have time to get to the edge of their seat.
McDavid went without a shot or a point, and was minus-3 in a 4-2 Blues win.
How did he think he played? “Average,” he said.
McDavid, who has now played his last “first of something” game for a while, should now be able to settle into a routine, with weekend games against Divisional foes Calgary and Vancouver. “Now that all the peaks are kinda gone – first game, first home game, they’re kinda all out of the way – it should just be normal here.”
He may have been a star in Erie, and one day McDavid will be an NHL star. But today he’s a boy in a man’s league. He’ll get his points as he gets his feet wet, but it is unlikely many of them will come against teams like the Blues.
“I’m 34. It’s difficult for me to play against a team like that,” said teammate Matt Hendricks. “They’re a heavy, hard hockey team. But, you’re not going to find a lot of teams unlike that in the West, for the most part.”
As for another Oilers disastrous start, head coach Todd McLellan suspected, “I’m sure that he feels like there’s a large chunk of our 0-4 record (that) falls on his shoulders.”
It’s not McDavid’s fault, clearly. If you’ve watched the Edmonton Oilers for the past five years you would have figured out that 18-year-olds can sometimes make good followers, but they are not equipped to lead any team in this man’s National Hockey League.
Ask Taylor Hall, who was McDavid back in 2010.
“It’s not going to get any easier (for McDavid). That’s the NHL, man,” Hall said. “We’ve been losing to St. Louis for, like, five years now. We’re going to have to find a way to beat the St. Louis’ and the L.A.’s,” said Hall, who scored his first of the season. “It’s fine if we can beat some of the bottom feeders, but if we’re going to make up any ground, we have to beat these teams.”
In fact, Edmonton’s power play could have won them this game, as it could have in Nashville in Game 2, where it went 0-for-5 in a 2-0 loss. Edmonton trailed the Blues 3-2 midway through the third period, had the momentum and drew two penalties.
But the power play failed, the Blues scored on a later man advantage, and the Oilers now go to Calgary for a Hockey Night in Canada game with a 0-4 record.
“We had a good power play there, for a little bit in the second period. It was a little bit disappointing that we couldn’t tie it up there, but that’s the way it goes,” McDavid said. “It was good. The fans were rockin’. It’s too bad we couldn’t give them something to cheer about.”