Prediction: Edmonton Oilers will ride playoff supernova Connor McDavid to beat Calgary Flames


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Connor McDavid will not be denied.

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That’s my prediction for this new Battle of Alberta, that the Edmonton Oilers will ride out McDavid’s dominant play and beat the Calgary Flames in the NHL quarter finals.

Here are five numbers from the first round of the playoffs that demonstrated how the NHL’s biggest star has gone supernova in these 2022 playoffs.

2.0. In the regular season, McDavid had his highest point scoring season ever, 123 points in 80 games, good for 1.54 points per game. But he had 14 points, 2.0 per game, a dramatic increase in production orchestrated in the heat of fierce and physical playoff competition. In 21 previous playoff games, McDavid had just 22 points, a clear signal of how much more effective he was on the attack against the Kings this year.

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6.9. At the Cult of Hockey, we conduct video reviews of major contributions to Grade A shots (as well as major mistakes on Grade A shots against). In the opening round, McDavid made 6.9 major contributions to Grade A shots per game, 39 at even strength, seven on the power play and two short-handed, good for 48 major contributions to Grade A shots in total. This number, too, was higher than his regular season total, where he made 5.9 per game.

In second place during the regular season was Leon Draisaitl, 5.5 per game, then Zach Hyman, 3.3, Jesse Puljujarvi, 3.1, and Evander Kane and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 3.0 each. Draisaitl and Puljujarvi’s Grade A shot production collapsed in the playoffs, with injury and/or illness likely a factor for both players. But McDavid only got more dangerous.

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+3.72. When it comes to the measure of McDavid’s two-way play in the playoffs, we compared major contributions to Grade A shots for to major mistakes on Grade A shots against at even strength. In the playoffs, McDavid contributed to 4.5 Grade A shots for per 15 minutes of even strength time, making. mistakes at a rate of 0.8 per 15. Overall he was +3.72 Grade A shots per 15, an astounding total. In the regular season — when McDavid posted the best Grade A shots plus-minus of his career — he was +2.2 per game, an amazing total, the best we’ve ever seen since we started to track this stat in the 2014-15 season, but not anywhere close to his playoff number.

12. The Edmonton Oilers gave up 20 Grade A shots in Game Five and looked like they were going to get booted from the playoffs by the Los Angeles Kings. But largely feeding off of McDavid’s will-to-win and his two-way intensity, Edmonton played the best defensive hockey its played in years in the final two games, giving up just 12 Grade A shots in total. When the captain led the way, backchecking like a fiend and covering his check in the defensive slot like his life depended on it, the other Oilers followed.

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61.7 per cent. I usually don’t put much weight in stats like Corsi, which looks at how a team does when it comes to shots at net when an individual player is on the ice. Such stats tend to distort a player’s true talent, bringing down a great player into the pack and pulling up weaker players into the pack. For example, in the regular season, Jesse Puljujarvi was the top Oilers player when it came to Corsi with a 58.6 percentage, even though Puljujarvi was far from Edmonton’s best player. McDavid, who was the best player, ranked second at 56.7 percent, with Leon Draisaitl, the Oil’s second best player, ranking 18th on the team for Corsi at 50.6 per cent. None of that passes the smell test for me.

In the playoffs, however, McDavid ranked #1 for Corsi on the Oilers at 61.7 per cent, with an astonishing Goals For Percentage of 73.3 per cent, on 11 goals for 4 against at even strength.

McDavid’s great play was the driver of those outstanding numbers for the Oilers when he’s on the ice, one more signal of him going supernova in these playoffs.

Can his heat outdo anything the Flames can bring? Good luck to you if you bet against him.

At the Cult of Hockey

McCURDY: Woodcroft’s amazing Donut Line

STAPLES: Unlikely trio a key ingredient for Oilers

LEAVINS: 9 Things, including picking up the pieces after Chiarelli

McCURDY: Player grades: Edmonton Oilers win Game 7, advance to Round 2

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