The Edmonton Oilers are set to face some major adversity, as Connor McDavid will be out of action for the next two to three weeks. The news came down Tuesday, with general manager Ken Holland addressing the media at Rogers Place.
“(It’s) totally unrelated to the (knee) injury that he had this summer,” Holland said. “The good news I guess about having the MRI is not only did we see the quad injury, but the doctors had an opportunity to look at the injuries from this summer and everything (with the knee) looks great.”
McDavid is out with a quad injury, Holland said. He injured it Saturday as the Oilers faced off against the Nashville Predators and the left leg remained stiff and swollen in the subsequent days. That led to an MRI on Monday, which revealed the extent of the injury.
There is no surgery needed, which is also good news.
McDavid flew to Toronto to rehab with his medical and training team, while the Oilers will kick off a three-game road swing after Tuesday’s contest against Chicago at home.
Edmonton joins the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks as Pacific Division teams making do without their best players. The Flames are without captain Mark Giordano and defenceman Travis Hamonic, while Vancouver is living life without Brock Boeser at the moment. Elias Pettersson is also banged up.
The good news for the Oilers is that they still have the NHL’s leading scorer in the mix. Leon Draisaitl will be the focus of attention for the coming weeks and he’s used to life on another line, so it should be business as usual as far as he’s concerned. Somewhat.
“First of all, it is a big deal. He’s the best player in the world,” Draisaitl said. “If he’s missing on any team, you know it hurts. We’re not going to find a way around that. But, we have to come in with the right mindset, and find our own game away from him. Without him. It’s going to be a tight-checking group in here that’s going to defend like crazy and try to win games that way. I think we have the guys in here to do that. I’m very confident in this group.”
This group is second in the Pacific Division in terms of a playoff spot and the race could not be much tighter. They’re just two points behind missing the post-season altogether, which makes every night critical and every win a must.
The Oilers have games in hand on the rest of their compatriots, however, and that shifts things a bit. It could augment Holland’s approach at the trade deadline, too, but it’s not likely he’ll make a big splash. The move in the books was always to bring in a winger to assist on McDavid’s line anyway, so that’s probably still in the cards.
As for life without McDavid, it is what it is.
Edmonton’s travelled this road before and it wasn’t pretty. They’re 15-19-7 in games without McDavid, averaging 2.17 goals per game and 29 shots on goal per game. Where things really take a slide on the Connor-less Oilers is on the power play, where they’re aiming at 13.6 percent without him and 27 percent with him.
Whatever comes next, this will be the best test of Edmonton’s mettle as we’ve had all season. And it will determine if Draisaitl is ready, willing and able to take the role of superstar once and for all.
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