Home Sports Edmonton Oilers commend Connor McDavid’s leadership as team fights to stay in Stanley Cup Final

Edmonton Oilers commend Connor McDavid’s leadership as team fights to stay in Stanley Cup Final

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Connor McDavid guided the Edmonton Oilers from a dreadful start, all the way to the playoffs and into the Stanley Cup Final.

When Darnell Nurse faced criticism in the third round for his performance, McDavid was quick to defend him. When Matthew Tkachuk, Sam Bennett, and the Florida Panthers targeted Zach Hyman and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, it was McDavid — not typically involved in post-whistle altercations — who stepped in and endured a few punches for his trouble.

“It says a lot about him as a leader,” Hyman said. “I got hit in the head by Bennett, and I think he was the first one in there.

“He sticks up for his teammates and he’s not afraid to get into a scrum.”

The 27-year-old McDavid called it just a chance to “do my part.”

He has more than done his part to bring Edmonton to this stage, leading the NHL playoffs in scoring with 38 points and standing as the undisputed leader, the face of the franchise, and the best player in hockey. The long-time captain, now in his ninth NHL season, has been pivotal throughout this extended run, highlighted by a four-point performance that prevented his team from being swept.

More of that McDavid brilliance might be required with the Oilers trailing 3-1 as they head into Game 5 on Tuesday night in Florida.

“Any time our team’s backs are against the wall, he’s the first guy to push back,” Hyman said. “For us to come back, he’s got to be the best. He seems to always be the best when we’re in these situations.”

The entire league has witnessed it.

When the Oilers faced elimination for the first time this postseason in Game 6 of the second round against Vancouver, McDavid provided three assists. When they fell behind 2-1 to Dallas in the Western Conference final, he again contributed three assists.

This is why no one around the team was surprised — impressed, certainly — when McDavid scored a goal and made three assists in Game 4 with Edmonton on the edge of elimination.

“That’s what the great ones do — they lead,” said teammate Connor Brown, who first played with McDavid a decade ago in junior with the Ontario Hockey League’s Erie Otters. “He’s one of the greats. He leads by example. He leads with his words, leads by example.

McDavid, a three-time MVP who has topped the league in points five times and goals once, and has been a first-team All-Star six times, has achieved nearly everything on an individual level. His latest accomplishment was reaching 32 assists, surpassing Wayne Gretzky’s record for the most in a single postseason.

With his focus entirely on lifting the Stanley Cup for the first time, he downplayed adding yet another feat to the history books.

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