The NHL is less than two weeks away from kicking off the 2020 playoffs after being forced to suspend their season back in March due to coronavirus, as previously reported by The Inquisitr. The Edmonton Oilers, led by Connor McDavid, are one of 24 teams in contention for the Stanley Cup this summer and as reported by NHL.com, the superstar has received heaps of recent praise from teammates.
"We were saying on the bench, it looks like he got faster over the break," said veteran winger Tyler Ennis. "He's flying. He's been playing great."
The 23-year-old former No. 1 overall draft pick was off to a stellar season before the pandemic hit, putting up 34 goals and 63 assists in 64 games to help lead the Oilers to the 5th seed in the Western Conference. The Oilers, who already have the advantage of playing close to home as Edmonton was chosen as one of two hub cities, are full of confidence with McDavid at the helm.
"Connor, there is a reason why he's the best player in the world," said Oilers forward Riley Sheehan. "It almost looked like he gained a step this whole time. He's amazing and he's fun to watch out there. He's looking sharp out there."
McDavid and his team will have to be sharp to get past their first-round opponent, the Chicago Blackhawks. Even though the Oilers finished the abbreviated season with 83 points to the Blackhawks' 72, Chicago was the victor in two of the three regular season games that the teams faced off in.
Led by veterans and former Stanley Cup winners Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, the Blackhawks may have the edge in experience, but the numbers certainly lean in favor of the Oilers. As impressive as McDavid's stats were this season, he didn't lead his team in points. That accolade belonged to Leon Draisaitl, the 24-year-old center who racked up 43 goals and 67 assists through 71 games.
But as team captain and the face of a franchise that has had just one postseason appearance in the 14 years prior to this season, the pressure to succeed and lead still falls on McDavid. The Oilers' Head Coach Dave Tippett is pleased with what he has seen from his All-Star center so far.
"He looks motivated and ready to go. I'm fortunate our leadership crew have come back and their mindset is very good. They want to make sure they are ready to play, and Connor has come back and is leading the way."For his part, McDavid said the break allowed him to get his body back into the shape it needs to be and that he "feels good now."
Game one of the Oilers/Blackhawks Qualifying Round is scheduled for August 1 at Edmonton's Rogers Place. At this time, there are no plans for tickets to be sold or for fans to be in attendance.