McDavid, Hyman need to bust out of slumps or Edmonton Oilers are done

It’s just a temporary glitch — McDavid put up 17 points in the first six games of the playoffs and knows how to produce under pressure — but he has to find a way out of it by Saturday night

Article content

Connor McDavid has to be better.

So does Zach Hyman

Article content

It’s something I can’t remember EVER saying before, but if the Edmonton Oilers are going to find a way out of the crisis situation they find themselves in after falling behind 3-2 in their series with the Vancouver Canucks, it has to start with their captain and their 50-goal scorer.

After McDavid and Leon Draisaitl combined for four points each in a convincing Game 2 win, the best player in the world has gone cold. He has one assist in the last three games, two of them losses, and was pointless and minus two in a 3-2 defeat Thursday night that leaves the Oilers one loss away from the unthinkable.

Advertisement 2

Article content

It’s just a temporary glitch — McDavid put up 17 points in the first six games of the playoffs and knows how to produce under pressure — but he has to find a way out of it by Saturday night.

Game 6 will be the biggest game McDavid has ever played in his career. Until Game 7, that is, if the Oilers manage to get there. Nobody even wants to think about the fallout if Edmonton, its sights set on winning a Stanley Cup this year, loses to a playoff newcomer in the second round.

McDavid needs to be McDavid.

He’s battling hard and you know that nobody wants this more than he does, but the numbers speak for themselves — zero points in Game 5, one assist in Game 4, zero points in Game 3.

Credit the Canucks, they’re staying on top of him and getting away with as much hooking and holding as the playoff standard will allow, as they should, but 97 needs to find a way.

Oilers Connor McDavid
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA – MAY 16: Arturs Silovs #31 of the Vancouver Canucks makes a stop against Connor McDavid #97 of the Edmonton Oilers during the first period in Game Five of the Second Round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Arena on May 16, 2024 in Vancouver, British Columbia. Photo by Derek Cain /Getty Images

And he needs help. The list of Oilers slumping at the wrong time is a lot deeper than one captain. After 54 goals in the regular season and nine more in the first six games of the post-season, Hyman has one assist in the last four games and zero points in the last three. That’s not good enough.

Article content

Advertisement 3

Article content

The list of players who need to step up right now is longer than it should be given Edmonton’s experience. Two assists in the playoffs from Darnell Nurse doesn’t cut it, either.

Further down the food chain, 20-goal scorer Warren Foegele has two points in 10 playoff games and none in this series while Ryan McLeod and Corey Perry have pitched 10-straight goose eggs. (McLeod has a grand total of nine points in 42 career post-season games).

Whil Draisaitl has 11 points in the series, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has seven and Evander Kane has a goal and two assists in the last three games, the balance Edmonton needs at this time of year isn’t there.

This is the part where McDavid delivers one of those performances like he did in Game 7 against the Los Angeles Kings two years ago, willing his team to victory. This is the part where Hyman converts on some of those goal mouth chances and gets Edmonton off to the start it needs.

It’s all pretty cut and dried at this point. The Oilers either take control of this series, starting right now, and don’t let go, or we’re back in ‘Wait Till Next Year’ country.

Advertisement 4

Article content

Zach Hyman
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA – MAY 16: Zach Hyman #18 of the Edmonton Oilers skates against Tyler Myers #57 of the Vancouver Canucks during the second period in Game Five of the Second Round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Arena on May 16, 2024 in Vancouver, British Columbia. Photo by Derek Cain /Getty Images

The Oilers have been chasing this thing from the start. In a series they were favoured to win, they’ve never led. They fell behind 1-0, then 2-1 and now 3-2. That’s flirting with disaster.

“There are games in this series I thought we should have won, that happens, it’s hockey,” said head coach Kris Knoblauch. “We’re playing a good team so let’s not take for granted we should be up in the series. We’re down 3-2. We could easily be up but we’re in this situation now.”

And it’s dire. You can argue that the Oilers deserve better than a 3-2 deficit, that they should have won Game 3 after outshooting Vancouver 36-7 over the final two periods. And Game 1 could have gone their way if Stuart Skinner hadn’t let in some freebies. But none of that matters now.

All that counts is who shows up Saturday night in what promises to be the loudest and most urgent atmosphere at Roger Place in nearly two decades.

 

This is it. You wanted playoff drama, fasten your seatbelts because we are about to see what the Edmonton Oilers are really made of.

E-mail:

 [email protected]

Article content