Slowing down Connor McDavid may seem like a hopeless pursuit, but foes across the NHL are certainly trying.
The captain of the Edmonton Oilers has picked up on at least one tactic.
“I don’t get a lot of time with the puck in the neutral zone to come through with any kind of speed,” McDavid said during all-star weekend in Los Angeles. “That’s definitely an area that I have to figure out, either to get open or find different ways to come through the middle or just overall figure it out and still find a way to contribute that way.
“It’s almost a compliment if you’re getting attention like that so that’s how I try and look at it as much as it sucks.”
Wayne Gretzky claimed that McDavid was “chasing” down Sidney Crosby this season for best-in-the-game status during the festivities in L.A. The pursuit is sure to continue in the second half as the two Canadian forwards tussle for control of the Art Ross and Hart trophies.
McDavid has impressed not only Gretzky, the NHL’s all-time leading scorer, but stars across the league. A few offered thoughts on what stuck out most about the emerging 20-year-old from Newmarket, Ont.
ERIK KARLSSON â€” OTTAWA SENATORS CAPTAIN
“His speed and his ability to control the puck with the speed that he has, I think, is phenomenal. It’s something that most guys don’t have. I think that’s the one thing that sticks out for me is just how fast he can do everything and how much of a threat he can be when he has the puck in the defensive zone, going down the neutral zone and coming in on you. That probably would be the one thing.”
TYLER SEGUIN â€” DALLAS STARS CENTRE
“I don’t quite get how his first three steps, how he can separate from players so quickly with those first three steps. And even more impressive how he can do it almost quicker with the puck than without. He’s in his own world with that … that’s a different fast.”
TAYLOR HALL â€” NEW JERSEY DEVILS WINGER (AND FORMER OILERS TEAMMATE)
“If anything I’d just say (he has) more confidence. Maybe as a rookie if he went a game without getting a point it would creep into his next game, like maybe for a period or something like that. And this year it’s just he’s the same all the time and he’s really brought that consistency. And you can’t blame him. When you’re 18 consistency is the toughest part to bring to your game. That’s what I think has separated him this year is he brings it every night and that’s why he’s at the top of the points race.”
JOE PAVELSKI â€” SAN JOSE SHARKS CAPTAIN
“He has that burst that (laughs), I don’t know what I would do with it. You just have to be aware of him. You have to defend the right way on him. (But) sometimes you just can’t control it. The fact that he can do everything at that speed as well as far as stickhandling, shooting, making plays, and reading (opponents), it’s impressive.”
SETH JONES â€” COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS DEFENCEMAN
“There’s one or two plays a game that you can’t do anything about (his speed). It’s incredible how fast he is and how skilled he is with the puck. His head is always up and his hands are always moving and his feet are always moving. It’s rare to get a player that can do all three of those things and do it at an extremely high level.”
Jonas Siegel, The Canadian Press