The injured Leon Draisaitl did not dress for Friday’s game in Seattle. When it was all said and done, he would play only four less minutes than Seattle starter Philipp Grubauer.
As it turned out, the Oilers were just fine without the NHL’s second leading scorer, leapfrogging both the Kraken and the Calgary Flames in the standings on a stunning five-point night by Connor McDavid, as Edmonton administered a 7-2 Pacific Northwest pounding of the Kraken.
“We were able to assert the game we wanted to play right off the bat,” said head coach Jay Woodcroft. “Put the other team on the back foot. We took the game to them.”
This, folks, was as stress free a hockey game as an Oilers fan has enjoyed in a looong time. Not a finger nail chewed or church candle lit.
Without Draisaitl, Edmonton pinned seven on the Kraken. It was never close.
“When you take (Draisaitl’s) 20, 21 minutes out of the lineup, it’s an opportunity for others,” said Woodcroft.
“When you’re missing someone like Leon, it’s not that you’re replacing him. It’s just that other people are able to step up to the forefront and pick up the slack.”
“Other people?” Like, say, McDavid?
Playing a season-low 16:01, McDavid had a season-high five points.
“Especially losing Leon, he was going to want to step up,” said Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who had a four-point night himself. “Tonight he was he was a driver. I mean, he’s definitely our leader emotionally on the ice. I thought we followed his lead and rallied behind him.”
Three nights after a nervy 2-1 road win against the hated Calgary Flames, the Oilers won a laugher in Seattle, leading 3-0 before the game was four minutes old. Edmonton jumped on the Kraken with goals at 2:44, 3:16 and 3:55 of the first period, then scored again six minutes later on a Jesse Puljujarvi snipe, no less.
Klim Kostin had two goals and a scrap. He is emerging as a nice depth forward, on a team that is desperate for exactly that.
“He’s so skilled, so talented,” said McDavid, “and he’s big and mean. It’s a heck of a combination.”
McDavid was simply magnificent, with four assists and Edmonton’s seventh goal of the night. This was the sublime McDavid, on a night where he simply operated a step ahead of the Kraken, distributing pucks to Zach Hyman (two goals), Darnell Nurse and Puljujarvi — all primary assists.
The opening stanza was McDavid’s 18th career three-point period, and by game’s end he would have totals of 32-40-72 — in 37 games this season. He is on pace for a ridiculous 160 points, and even if he settles for 150, that is a mark that only four players have achieved in the past 50 years: Wayne Gretzky (nine times), Mario Lemieux (four times), Steve Yzerman and Bernie Nicholls.
“I’m running out of adjectives and analogies or metaphors,” Woodcroft said, when asked to describe his captain. “What he is doing, I think we should all realize, is quite special. It’s the best league in the world, and he’s off to a career year. He’s doing something that the league hasn’t seen for a very long time.”
So is the Oilers powerplay, which went two-for-two on a pair of Hyman goals from the door step, passes courtesy of McDavid. That uptick takes the Oilers unit to an even 33.3% on the season, which would be the highest ever recorded.
This was the beginning of three meetings between Edmonton and Seattle in 19 days. The Kraken visit Rogers Place on Tuesday.