The Edmonton Oilers have now been out of the playoffs longer than they were in them, even as the post mortems, autopsies and obituaries continue to flow like tears in various corners of Oil Country.
Surprising, then, to this observer when the most important Oiler of all, franchise centrepiece Connor McDavid, claimed to have not begun to analyze the series in his media exit interview on Friday afternoon. But the captain proceeded to explain his rationale in his usual level-headed manner, and soon had me nodding in understanding his approach.
“I haven’t really looked back. It’s been less than a week. I’m just trying to refresh, there’s lots of time to look back… as a player it’s a little different, you need a break. You need to relax, and you need to look at it with a clear head. When it’s so sudden it’s very easy to be frustrated, you’re just not thinking clearly. So you need to clear your head first, then look back at it. Take the positives, take the negatives, and figure out what exactly went wrong.“
But when pressed by reporters on the hot button issue of the Oilers’ defensive play, McDavid seemed to have been doing some thinking already, talking mostly in the “we” but pointing a finger at himself in the process.
“That’s an issue that we’ve been trying to fix for a bit now. We seemed to get it down in the regular season but for whatever reason it wasn’t there in the playoffs… Obviously it’s not where it needs to be. The teams that win are the teams that defend, and we haven’t seemed to figure that out yet. I thought we took some big steps playing defensively during the season…. Personally, obviously, could be better.”
The captain struggled to find better words before simply repeating “could be better” in reference to his own defensive play.
There is truth in those words, as there is pretty much any time Connor speaks. His matter-of-fact tone about this particular issue was music to these ears. Many folks would become defensive in another sense of the word when questioned so directly about a perceived weakness, but to McDavid it is an issue that needs to be addressed in order to make the next step.
One thing’s for sure. McDavid’s offense is not the problem: