It’s Connor McDavid’s party. The current most dominant player on the planet celebrates his 27th birthday this Saturday. Happy birthday, Connor, then.
For the occasion, the captain of the Edmonton Oilers said he wanted his team to win a 10th game in a row, which would set a surprising record for an organization that dictated its law in the 1980s.
He also said he was happy to have the chance to play in “one of [his] favorite amphitheaters”. “It’s always fun here. The fans are so involved in the game. I love it,” he said on Saturday morning after his club’s training.
Good for him if he loves the Bell Center so much. Because it was far from being in the old Molson Center that McDavid had his best moments.
This is obviously far from a disaster. But for a player who, since he was drafted, has been running at a rate of one and a half points per game, this is not trivial.
McDavid is having a lot more fun in Seattle (12 points in 5 games), Columbus (16 in 7), Pittsburgh (13 in 6) or Winnipeg (33 in 16).
Besides, it’s not as if the Oilers, on a collective level, are particularly struggling at the Bell Centre. This is evidenced by their advantageous record of 7-3-2 during their superstar’s 12 games in Montreal.
“I think some teams play different styles of play” that are harder to adjust to, suggested forward Zach Hyman. On the other hand, the Habs have completely changed since his and McDavid’s NHL debut in 2015.
“When I faced [the CH] with the Toronto Maple Leafs, in the playoffs, in 2021, it was a defensive team with big defenders like Shea Weber, Ben Chiarot, Jeff Petry and Joel Edmundson. Now, under Martin St-Louis, the game is more open. It’s difficult to pin down just one thing. We’ll see this evening. »
Head coach Kris Knoblauch wondered if external factors such as a difficult schedule or long trips could justify certain players producing differently in certain specific locations. For example, the Pacific Division teams, when they pass through the metropolis, often arrive from Toronto or Ottawa, or they go there immediately afterwards.
Indeed, it is when he plays games on Atlantic Division ice rinks that McDavid is least productive, although it is in this division that the Ottawa Senators play, who are among his favorite victims. To think that all this time, we were wondering who liked to play Kanata. We found.
“There’s nothing special in the air, I don’t know what it is! », assured the main person concerned, smiling, when asked about his difficulties on this ice rink.
“I hope that changes tonight,” he concluded.
It would make a nice birthday present for him, in any case.
The Canadiens head coach, Martin St-Louis, noted in the morning that the Oilers form one of the “hottest” teams in the NHL at the moment.
Needless to say, it’s not going to be a cakewalk for the Habs, who are on an ugly streak of two wins in eight games, and who particularly suffered earlier this week against the Philadelphia Flyers and the Sharks. of San Jose.
Regardless, the visitors’ head coach, Kris Knoblauch, called on his men to be careful. Just last Tuesday, they had all the trouble in the world beating the Chicago Blackhawks, a miserable club which, in addition, is undermined by injuries. The CH “is a young team, which can change from night to night,” recalled the Oilers pilot.
“We’re going to face a hungry and passionate team. If we are not prepared, we will get burned,” he warned.