The Edmonton Oilers will be without captain Connor McDavid for at least two weeks due to injury. The Pacific Division is now anyone’s for the taking.
The Edmonton Oilers will have to deal without their best player and former Hart Trophy winner, Connor McDavid, for an estimated three weeks. On Tuesday, Oilers general manager Ken Holland told the media that McDavid will miss between two to three weeks due to a quad injury.
McDavid’s injury was originally classified as a bruised knee by Oilers head coach Dave Tippett last week, causing slight concern due to the injury affecting the same knee the forward injured badly last April. However, the Oilers stated on Tuesday that McDavid’s injury this go around is unrelated to his injury from last season.
Even still, the loss of McDavid for even a few weeks will have a ripple effect across the Oilers lineup. Edmonton currently sits second in the Pacific Division with 64 points on the season, but is in a three-way tie with the Vegas Golden Knights and Calgary Flames. Four points separates first place in the Pacific — currently held by the Vancouver Canucks — from fifth, where the Arizona Coyotes sit currently out of the playoffs.
The log-jam of teams in the Pacific means all five teams are fighting for five of the eight playoff spots in the Western Conference, which doesn’t include the Central Division teams in the wild card race. As of Tuesday, the Winnipeg Jets, Nashville Predators, Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks are all at or within five points of the wild card.
In short, losing too much ground in the Western Conference playoff races could spell death for any team at any time.
McDavid’s injury for the Oilers comes at a tough time for Edmonton. Though four of the Oilers’ next six games will be against Eastern Conference opponents, the opposition they face will be fierce. Over the next handful of weeks, the Oilers will face the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Florida Panthers, the Boston Bruins and the Carolina Hurricanes, all teams in the East that are currently in a playoff spot or are fighting tooth and nail for one.
To make a bad situation worse, when the Oilers have had to play without McDavid in the lineup, Edmonton sits below true .500 with a 15-19-7 record. Not an inspiring record with playoff hopes on the line.
This season, McDavid has 81 points in 55 games for the Oilers, having just passed the 30-goal threshold for the fourth time in his career before his injury. McDavid is not the Oilers’ leading scorer this season — as that honor belongs to Leon Draisaitl and his 85 points in 55 games — but his loss, even for a few weeks, is still a major blow to the Oilers.
Thankfully, Edmonton will have to deal with, at maximum, three weeks without McDavid in the lineup. Not season-ending by any stretch, but the injury does give the rest of the Pacific Division a chance to put distance between themselves and Edmonton with the Oilers best player out of commission until the end of February.
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