The Edmonton Oilers have quite the dynamic duo.
In something the NHL has not seen since the mid nineties, Oilers superstar forwards Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl both hit the 50 point mark versus Vancouver on Sunday night, each of them doing so in just their 29th game of the season. This puts them both on pace to hit 100 points in their 58th game, and over the course of a full 82 game season, both are on pace to finish with a remarkable 142 points.
The last time the NHL had a pair of teammates each hit the 140-point plateau? The 1995-96 season, where the Pittsburgh Penguins had Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr hit 161 and 149 points, respectively. If McDavid and Draisaitl can keep their torrid paces up and hit the 140 point mark, they will be in pretty elite company, as Lemieux and Jagr are among two of the best to ever play the game.
So what is making McDavid and Draisaitl so successful this year? Let’s break down their stats.
1. Finding the Back of the Net
Obviously, the key to winning hockey games is to score goals. And this is something that neither McDavid or Draisaitl has had much of a problem with this season. If either one of them aren’t scoring the goal, you can normally find them in the assist column, as McDavid or Draisaitl recorded a point on 69 of 91 Oilers goals so far this year. That converts to a whopping 75.8% of Oilers goals that were either scored or set up by one or both of them. Of Draisaitl’s 50 points, 18 of them are goals, which has him on pace to score 48 by season’s end. McDavid has 19 goals from his 51 points, which sees him on pace for 50 goals. Needless to say, both of these guys could definitely hit 50 goals on the year. So along with both of them being the first pair of teammates to record 140 points or more since 1995-96, they could also be the first pair of teammates to record 50 goals in a season since 1995-96 when Lemieux and Jagr accomplished that as well.
2. Improved Power Play
This stat is more or less for the Oilers team as a whole. A big reason why the Oilers have been leading the Pacific Division since October 11 is because of their lethal power play. With the first unit consisting of McDavid, Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, James Neal, and Oscar Klefbom, that’s a whole lot of offensive fire power to be throwing at opposing defences. The Oilers rank first in the league in power play conversions, scoring on 32.5% of chances with the man advantage. This is a big improvement from last year, when the Oilers finished with a 21.2% conversion rate. Something that is worth noting is the fact that of McDavid’s 51 points, 22 of them have come on the power play, and of Draisaitl’s 50 points, 18 of them have come on the power play. The Oilers have also been inexplicably better on the penalty kill, as they current rank second in the league in penalties killed off.
3. More Ice Time
For elite forwards in the NHL, more ice time is going to lead to more scoring chances. And for McDavid and Draisaitl, their TOI stats look to be a huge reason why they are on the pace they are on. Draisaitl and McDavid lead all forwards in ice time, with Draisaitl averaging 22:45 per game and McDavid at 22:15 a game. Despite the tons of ice time they are given, the dynamic duo does not seem to be slowing down any time soon. For McDavid, an average of 3:41 of his 22:15 is spent on the power play per game and 4:31 is spent on the penalty kill. For Draisaitl, 3:39 is spent on the power play and 3:32 on the penalty kill. In simpler terms, McDavid spends approximately 8 minutes per game on special teams, and Draisaitl spends approximately 7. As long as these two prove they can handle and take advantage of the minutes they are given, Dave Tippett should not change anything. The Oilers are successful because of the stellar play of their top guys, and when your team is playing well, you don’t want to make any major changes.
After analyzing the stats, we can conclude that the play of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl is an enormous reason why the Oilers have been pacing the Pacific Division since October 11. With the numbers that they are putting up, we could very easily see something in the NHL that no one has seen since 1996. Whether they both hit 50 goals or 140 points, or both, it will truly be something special to witness for not just Oilers fans, but hockey fans alike.
Featured photo courtesy of Paul Vernon / The Associated Press
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