Connor or no Connor? That is the question for Heritage Classic

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With the Oilers in a perplexing and costly funk and the most slot watched game of the season coming up on Sunday in Commonwealth Stadium, the status of the injured Edmonton captain is of serious, if not grave, concern.

The Oilers looked helpless without him in the last two games, losing 7-4 to Minnesota and 3-0 to the New York Rangers, and need to stop the bleeding, fast. With the Calgary Flames in town for the Heritage Classic, a McDavid return would be epic.

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But he’s still a big question mark. Sunday will be seven days after the Oilers announced he would be out one-to-two weeks with an upper body injury. He’s skating on his own and making progress, but right now the Oilers are saying they still don’t know if he’ll make it.

“We have time before the game (to make a decision),” said head coach Jay Woodcroft. “We’ll see how he is but he’s skating and that’s a good sign.”

As important as Sunday is on both fronts, they can’t rush this, not even if the team can’t swim without him and is running out of air as it flails desperately for the side of the pool. Not even if it lets the air out of the NHL’s big stage.

Outside in the cold, on sketchy ice, against a division rival that would benefit greatly if McDavid has a relapse? You don’t don’t put your franchise player in that situation unless he’s been 100 per cent for a few days.

“I haven’t thought like that just yet,” said Woodcroft, adding McDavid will have a big say in this.

“He knows his body better than anybody, we’ll see where he is. He had a good day Thursday. I wouldn’t rule it out but I’m not saying he’s going to play or not play. We have some time before Sunday’s game. We’ll see.”

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