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Fast, Furious & Fabulous: There’s No One Quite Like McDavid



Edmonton Oilers, Connor McDavid, Pittsburgh Penguins, NHL trade rumors

Sure, the Pittsburgh Penguins are aware of how well Connor McDavid skates.

They know that, over the years, his shadow probably has strained a few hamstrings trying to keep up with him.

They also recognize that speed is not the only trait that makes him the most dynamic offensive talent in the NHL.

“There’s a lot of guys who have speed,” Sidney Crosby said. “It’s the way he uses it. His hockey sense, his ability to make plays, shoot the puck.”

Those qualities, and others, should yield McDavid’s fifth NHL scoring title this season.

He enters Edmonton’s game against the Penguins Friday at 7:08 p.m. at PPG Paints Arena with 44 goals and 61 assists in 58 games, which is good for a 20-point lead over teammate Leon Draisaitl in the scoring race.

Not only among the Oilers, but in the league.

McDavid is on pace to finish with 148 points, which would be the most by anyone in the NHL since Mario Lemieux put up 161 in 1995-96.

“One-twenty seemed like a crazy number at one point, and now it looks like he’s going to cruise to that,” Crosby said. “He’s finding a way every year to get better, when you don’t think it’s possible. That’s not a knock on him. He’s just setting the bar really high. But he continues to push it.”

McDavid leads the NHL in goals and already has tied the career-high he set last season. That’s not entirely a coincidence, since he ranks third in the league with 253 shots.

“He’s shooting the puck a lot more this season,” Jake Guentzel said.

Crosby, of course, is eminently qualified to evaluate McDavid, since he has led the NHL in scoring a couple of times and has accomplished a few other things since taking up the game.

But it doesn’t take a consensus top-10 talent in league history to appreciate McDavid’s extraordinary cocktail of talents.

“Not only his ability to be very, very fast,” Bryan Rust said, “but his ability to make plays at that speed is exceptional.”

It’s not known what personnel matchups Mike Sullivan will try to get against McDavid, but the No. 1 defense pairing of Kris Letang and Brian Dumoulin figures to draw at least some of that duty.

If so, Letang understands the challenge he will face.

“The way he processes the play ahead of everybody, it’s like he’s picking you apart before you even know you’re stuck,” Letang said.

The McDavid-Draisaitl tag team is sure to have a prominent place in the discussion when Sullivan and his staff are getting their players ready for this game.

“Those two guys are pretty special,” Letang said. “Often, you prepare for a game like this and you talk about their team, but I think we’re going to spend a little bit more time on certain individuals. It’s like when you’re playing against San Jose; you have (Erik) Karlsson in the lineup, how dangerous he is.”

Draisaitl, who has 34 goals and 51 assists in 56 games, is somewhat overshadowed by McDavid, but opponents certainly know what kind of threat he is. And that it probably isn’t realistic to expect that both can be completely neutralized.

The idea, then, is more like damage-control.

“These guys are really good players,” Sullivan said. “They’re going to get their looks. We’re going to have to try to negate the amount of looks they get, but also the quality of the looks they get, through structure and collective effort away from the puck.”