Connor McDavid Stars In Oilers Preseason Win

Connor McDavid Stars In Oilers Preseason Win&h=235&w=320&zc=1

Sure, it’s only one game into Connor McDavid’s first NHL preseason but he’s already showing flashes of brilliance. On Monday night, McDavid tallied a pair of assists and earned first star as his Edmonton Oilers beat the Calgary Flames 4-2.

McDavid logged plenty of ice time at nearly 20 1/2 minutes–most among Oilers’ forwards. Only defenseman Andrej Sekera saw more time on the ice. The first pick in the 2015 NHL draft set up Leon Draisaitl’s game-tying goal and assisted on Nail Yakupov’s empty net goal in the split squad victory over the Flames. Afterwards, McDavid said he was somewhat nervous for his debut against NHL level competition: “It’s exciting, even though it’s not your first game, it’s still similar. I remember my first OHL game, I think that’s the most nervous I’ve ever been for a game. It wasn’t quite on that level, but it was certainly right there. It was an exciting night.”

One of the more impressive things about McDavid is his critical eye toward his own performance: “There was obviously nerves and a lot of excitement going into the game, and it takes a little bit to settle down. I thought I was a little nervous in the first period and wasn’t patient with the puck and wasn’t playing my game. I guess that’s to be expected, there was so much hype about playing your first NHL game — although it’s not really — it’s still kind of your first taste.”

Edmonton’s new head coach Todd McLellan was happy with what he saw: “I thought he looked dangerous when he had the puck and I thought he played well on both sides of it. He had a couple of good scoring chances, and we got what we expected for Day One.”

Something lost in the box score that impressed serious hockey aficionados was McDavid’s performance on special teams. McLellan said that he hadn’t originally planned to use the rookie phenom on the penalty kill: “We all focus on his offense, but he’s responsible [defensively]. I felt good about his penalty-killing. I didn’t know I was going to use him, but as the night went on, we used him and he was good positionally. When you have legs like that, you can recover from errors a lot quicker, and he has the ability to do that. But he’s not flying all over the place in the D zone, he stops, he slows down, he understands he can get back to full speed quickly. He was very responsible defensively tonight. We’ll see where it goes from there.”

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