Timber wood Published Feb 06, 2023 • 3 minute read
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Jan 9, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (97) shoots and scores during the third period against the Los Angeles Kings at Crypto.com Arena. Photo by Jason Parkhurst /USA TODAY Sports We saw something different from Connor McDavid in the 2022 playoffs, a level of explosiveness that had the hockey world proclaim his game had gone supernova.
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Access articles from across Canada with one account Share your thoughts and join the conversation in the comments Enjoy additional articles per month Get email updates from your favourite authors If that transformation wasn’t bright enough for your mortal eyes, McDavid has taken up his game one more notch this 2022-23 regular season, going super sniper nova, greatly increasing his goal scoring rate.
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He’s still going hard, fast and skilled to the net as much as ever. He’s still jetting down the left wing and unleashing wicked wrist shots as much as ever. But we also find him cutting out from behind the net to launch forehand and backhand bombs more than in the past. He’s also now charging up ice, slicing fast into the middle and ripping nasty slot shots more than before as well.
He’s taking more shots than ever. He’s taking more Grade A shots than ever. He’s scoring on a higher percentage of his shots than ever.
Most importantly, he’s scoring more goals than ever.
When McDavid improves he doesn’t just raise his game a new level, he explodes ahead, blowing up opposition defences.
In his first two seasons, McDavid got 53 goals in 127 games, 0.42 per game.
In his next five season, McDavid got 201 goals in 360 games, 0.66 per game.
This year he’s got 41 goals in 50 games, 0.82 per game.
He’s a career 15.5 per cent shooter, but is shooting 19.6 per cent this year. This high shooting percentage might well make some folks wonder if McDavid’s scoring outburst is sustainable, if the strong goal scorer is simply having a great run of puck luck that has resulted in extra pucks in the net.
But that’s not what we’re seeing at the Cult of Hockey.
In the past four years, McDavid’s shots have gone from 3.3 to 3.6 to 3.9 to 4.2 per game.
In our own tracking of the most dangerous of shots, Grade A shots, there’s also been a bump, from 1.9 to 1.9 to 2.4 to 3.1 Grade A shots per game.
But he’s not suddenly scoring on a higher percentage of those most dangerous shots. In 2019-29, he scored on 27.9 per cent of his Grade A shots, then 30.6 per cent the following season, then 22.6 per cent last year, then 26.8 per cent this year.
On average the Oilers have scored on 25.9 per cent of their Grade A shots this year, and McDavid’s 26.8 per cent success rate aligns with that team average.
He’s not on a hot shooting streak. No, he’s simply hot. He’s gone super sniper nova.
He’s finding ways to get off a higher volume of Grade A shots and the goals are coming his way.
All this makes me wonder how many more times McDavid can super explode his game and reach some new height.
I hope to find out in the 2023 playoffs.
And I would never bet against McDavid improving.
P.S. As for other Oilers, Leon Draisaitl is scoring on his usual high percentage of Grade A shots. I expect his explosive scoring will also continue, barring him getting injured.
The Oilers with extraordinarily high conversion rates on Grade A shots are Klim Kostin, with nine goals on 17 Grade A shots and maybe Ryan McLeod with eight goals on 20 Grade A shots.
As for folks with bad puck luck, Jesse Puljujarvi, Kailer Yamamoto and Dylan Holloway have also converted on less than 20 per cent of their Grade A shots, so maybe a few more goals can be expected to come their way.
At the Cult of Hockey McCURDY: Oil getting most out of defence just now
LEAVINS: Stu Skinner may have saved the season — 9 Things
STAPLES: Some free advice for the Oilers’ Jesse Puljujarvi
McCURDY: 3 reasons Ken Holland may be reluctant to change LHD