Oilers' two-headed monster of McDavid and Draisaitl puts on a desert clinic

Edmonton Oilers center Leon Draisaitl (29) celebrates his goal against the Arizona Coyotes with Oilers center Connor McDavid (97) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (Ross D. Franklin/AP)

You could say, “Sure, they only beat the Arizona Coyotes.”

But we would counter with, “Yes, but they did it with the entire left side of their defence on the injury list, in the second of back-to-back games.”

Then you could say, “Ya but, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl carried the Edmonton Oilers again.”

And to that, we would counter, “Uhhhhh….”

After a rough night in Dallas Tuesday, the Oilers kept intact their skein of not having lost two straight games all season long, as the big boys romped in a 5-3 win at Arizona. Since Dave Tippett became the head coach Edmonton is 15-5-1 in the first game of back to backs and 16-5 in the second game.

Draisaitl and McDavid each had two goals and four points Wednesday, splitting up 14 shots on net in a desert clinic that featured a couple of milestones.

“Connor and Leon were feelin’ it tonight. That always helps,” said Oilers defenceman Tyson Barrie, marvelling at the fact that perfect pair have 40 and 36 points respectively in just 19 Oilers games. “If you would sit here you’d say, I guess, it’s unsustainable. But every night those two are doing something. I don’t see them slowing down any time soon.

“It’s incredible,” Barrie continued. “Tonight, in the third period, they’re flying around the O-zone and having five chances in one shift. It’s great for the game. They are two guys who are just entering their prime. They’ll be a lot of fun to watch for a lot of years.

“The game is in pretty a good place with those two at the helm.”

Two-Headed Monster

Tippett put his top two players on the same line Wednesday, after a night in Dallas Tuesday in which the offence just never got going. Their response: four goals and eight points combined for Draisaitl and McDavid.

How dominant are these two? Get a load of these numbers:

Through 19 games Draisaitl leads the NHL in points (40), goals (20), multi-point games (12), power-play goals (10), game-winning goals (6), points per game (2.11), points on the road (19), third-period goals (9) and third-period points (18). He has 27 goals in his past 25 NHL games, and his 40 points in 19 games this season make Draisaitl the first player in Oilers history not named Wayne Gretzky to have 40 points prior to the 20-game mark of a season.

“It’s pretty good,” Tippett said, “'cause I know the other guy (Gretzky) was really, really good.”

Only five NHL players have scored 50 goals in their team’s first 50 games of the season: Gretzky, Lemieux, Maurice Richard, Brett Hull and Mike Bossy. No question, Draisaitl could be the sixth.

“I think it’s a little crazy to think I’m going to score 50 goals in 50 games,” he said after Wednesday’s game. “Right now pucks are going in for me, but this is a tough league to score in. I don’t expect to hit that stat at all.”

Then there is McDavid, who notched career assist No. 400 on a goal by Zack Kassian. With the helper — in career game No. 426 —McDavid becomes the fourth fastest player in NHL history to record 400 assists, behind Gretzky (290 games), Mario Lemieux (353) and Peter Stastny (411).

Broberg, Bro

So, what do the Oilers have in defenceman Philip Broberg, now that we’ve seen him play just three NHL games? With the injuries, Broberg’s ice time has increased from 14:24, to 18:59, to 21:29 Wednesday.

At just 20 years old, Broberg skates like a young Jay Bouwmeester — and we don’t throw that comparison around lightly. He’s six-foot-three. Could he one day become the player that Oscar Klefbom was before his bum shoulder took him down?

What has Tippett noticed in his first glimpse of the eighth-overall pick from the 2019 draft?

“His skating and his poise,” began Tippett. “It’s been really noticeable. Skating has always been a strength of his. But the poise, and thinking at an NHL level, has improved greatly.”

Tippett feels like Broberg has adapted to the North American style and rink size since he last saw the defenceman. Time and space are the biggest adaptations when a European D-man crosses the pond.

“He’s not putting himself into trouble,” Tippett said. “In the European game, you have lots of time in your own end, lots of space to hold on to the puck. Here, he’s being smart with it. At the offensive blue line he’s getting pucks through quickly…

“There is still lots of room for improvement, but he’s taken steps forward. We’ve asked him to play some pretty big minutes, and he’s done very well.”

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