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2024 Stanley Cup Final

All of a Sudden, It’s the Connor McDavid Show in Stanley Cup Final



Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid celebrates his empty-net goal in the third period of Game 5 against the Panthers on Tuesday night in Sunrise. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

SUNRISE — When talking about how great of a playoff run Connor McDavid is having, one has to look no further than his assist on the eventual game-winning goal in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final to help the Edmonton Oilers drag the Florida Panthers back to Alberta.

McDavid was boxed in by all four penalty killers in a fashion that almost nobody on earth could wiggle their way out of.

But this is Connor friggin’ McDavid we’re talking about here…

McDavid found the tiniest of holes between Dmitry Kulikov and Niko Mikkola, performed a windmill deke to perfection with both of them reaching in to try and get the stick off of him, and blew right past them while retaining possession before dishing the puck off to Corey Perry.

That’s just what the greatest player of this generation is capable of doing, no matter how good you defend him.

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The Panthers have learned that the hard way over the past couple of games.

After taking a 3-0 lead behind valiant defensive efforts and excellent goaltending by Sergei Bobrovsky, Florida appeared to have that figured out — but you cannot hold McDavid down forever.

In Games 3 and 4, McDavid rattled off a total of eight points — four points in each game — and all of a sudden it’s a 3-2 series heading back to Edmonton.

He is a special enough player to single-handedly take over a series, and he has been doing that all series.

And perhaps he is doing it better than anyone else has ever been able to in NHL history.

Going into Game 6, McDavid eight goals, 34 assists and 42 points in 23 postseason games.

His 34 assists are already an NHL record — he broke that one in Game 5, passing Wayne Gretzky’s total of 31 after picking up three of them in Edmonton’s 8-1 onslaught of Florida.

He trails Gretzky’s 1985 record of 47 points by five with a chance to move closer on Friday.

McDavid’s total of 42 is good for fourth behind two Gretzky seasons and Mario Lemieux’s magical 44-point run in 1990-91.

You know someone is good at this whole hockey thing if they share company with those two names, but he fits right in.

McDavid is the odds-on favorite to win the Conn Smythe Trophy despite trailing in the Stanley Cup Final for a reason.

Even further than that, his performance could very likely go down as the greatest in NHL postseason history.

He makes a great case — after all, he doesn’t have Jari Kurri or Jaromir Jagr on his wings.

No, he has made the likes of Warren Foegele, Dylan Holloway and Darnell Nurse look like future Hall of Famers.

All three of them are not bad by any means — the first two quality middle-six forwards and Nurse a defenseman who has shown the capability of being a quality, top-four two-way guy in spurts — but not anything like Kurri of Jagr.

Of course, everyone knows how good the teammates McDavid shares the ice with on the power play — Leon Draisaitl, Zach Hyman and Evan Bouchard chief among them — but when you look at what McDavid is doing on the ice, you see a player with talent that few in NHL history has ever possessed.

His speed, his drive, his hands, his eyes-on-the-back-of-his-head playmaking ability are off-the-chart elite.

Nobody else in NHL history has ever shown that on this consistent of a level throughout a playoff run.

Whether or not the Panthers can figure out a way to contain him for one more game and lift the Stanley Cup remains to be seen, but McDavid deserves his praise.

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