Containing Connor McDavid: Flyers’ Almost-Impossible Task
Center Connor McDavid is on a roll.
Come to think of it, the Edmonton Oilers’ superstar is always on a roll.
The player with two speeds — fast and faster — has points in 13 straight games overall, and is on a 15-game point streak on the road.
His next game is Thursday at the Wells Fargo Center.
Godspeed, Philadelphia Flyers.
In 11 career games against the Flyers, McDavid has 21 points (eight goals, 13 assists) and is plus-11.
He currently leads the NHL with 93 points — 17 points ahead of teammate Leon Draisaitl, who is second. He also paces the league with 41 goals. In 51 games.
Noah Cates, the Philadelphia Flyers’ rookie center and arguably their best defensive forward, will probably get a lot of matchups against McDavid. He’s excited about the challenge. He has never faced McDavid.
“You have to try to slow him down; he’s the best player in the world for a reason,” he said after the Flyers’ longest in-season practice (75 minutes) of 2022-23 on Wednesday in Voorhees. “Our concentration has to be through the roof. We’ve got to defend as five, even six guys out there.”
#Flyers coach John Tortorella talks about Connor McDavid and Edmonton’s other weapons. pic.twitter.com/IcZIiR4vU3
— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) February 8, 2023
“You try and limit his speed as much as you can,” said Scott Laughton, a center who also figures to be defending McDavid at times. “He’s got 90-some points for a reason. … You’ve got to try to limit his time (with the puck) and space.”
Center Morgan Frost said “play him as tight as you can. It’s probably inevitable that he gets a couple of chances. It’s about limiting how many chances he gets.”
Defenseman Ivan Provorov is also ready for the McDavid Challenge.
“He’s definitely the best player in the league with his speed and playmaking ability; it’s unbelievable,” Provorov said. “Overall as a team, we have to do our job and take away time and space. Be structured through the neutral zone and make him go around in a difficult way. Make him give up the puck. And when we have the opportunities, play hard on him.”
With McDavid and Draisaitl leading the way, Edmonton leads the league in goals scored (3.77 per game) and power-play success (31.8%).
“The PK has to try to keep it tight. Don’t let passes get through,” Laughton said. “It’s a great challenge for us. For a young guy like Catesy to be able to play against those guys and have a challenge like that (is great). It’s got to be a group effort.”
Coach John Tortorella said he can’t plan to stop one player, like McDavid, because the Oilers have so many other weapons … Travis Konecny will try to snap a 10-game goal-less streak. … Edmonton winger Zach Hyman has 16 points (6-10) in his last eight games. … The teams will also meet Feb. 21 in Edmonton. … The Flyers’ power play is 0 for 10 in the last four games and 30th overall, clicking at 15.8%.