His game in Calgary was simply outstanding, as he dominated the opposition, scoring two goals and adding an assist to go along with a CF% of 76.5% at even-strength. He made a lot of smart plays, often while under pressure, and was often carrying the puck and generating scoring chances.
After the game, Todd McLellan had this to say:
That was the best game yet from Connor, He made an impact throughout the night. Had an impact on the score sheet and probably could have had even more of an impact with some of the chances he had. I thought he let himself go and kind of gave himself permission. Sometimes you have to do that to get after it. As a young player you don’t have to give way to the veterans all the time; you’re allowed to go out and take charge. And I thought he did that. (Source: NHL.com)
I had noticed in the first two games against St. Louis and Nashville how often McDavid would make a pass or look to make a pass rather than shoot. I’d seen enough of his highlights in junior to know that he likes carrying the puck and used his speed regularly to pressure defencemen and create room for himself. But since it’s the NHL and his first time playing against experienced players, it’s understandable that he deferred to his teammates instead. I think a lot of us were relieved to see him carry the puck more in Calgary and really become that driver that could generate chances.
Out of curiosity, I wanted to see if what we saw in Calgary could be verified with the data available at War on Ice. I decided to look at shot attempts and see what percentage of the shot attempts McDavid was on the ice for actually came from his stick. For now, I looked at all situations (even-strength and special teams) to see if anything stood out.
Pretty clear jump from the first four games to the one in Calgary for young Connor. He was, early on, paired with Hall, who we know takes a lot of shot attempts himself, so it’s been a smart move separating the two. It also gives you two drivers on two separate lines, which will be tough for opposing coaches who want to match lines. We’ll let that Vancouver game slide. It was the Oilers third game in four nights, and the entire team got dominated possession wise. I don’t expect McDavid to have that low of a shot attempt proportion often.
Hopefully McDavid can continue with his strong play and start carrying the puck and generating scoring chances on a more consistent basis. This should be a fun season.