McDavid’s race to 100 points for Oilers amplified in shortened season

Connor McDavid said scoring 100 points in the shortened 2020-21 NHL season remains a possibility with seven games left but is not something he’s concerned about.

The Edmonton Oilers center has scored 87 points (29 goals, 58 assists) in 49 games and has a 16-point lead on teammate Leon Draisaitl in the race for the Art Ross Trophy as the leading scorer in the NHL, an award he won twice in his first five seasons (2016-17, 2017-18). He is on pace to finish with 99 after scoring three points in a 4-1 win against the Calgary Flames on Saturday.

“Personally, I want to continue to play good hockey, our group wants to continue to play good hockey,” McDavid said Saturday. “We want to go into the [Stanley Cup] Playoffs on a good note. Personally, it’s a number. Obviously, it’d be kind of different to be able to do it in a shortened season, but I’m not going to change anything. I’m just going to keep playing my game, and if I get there, I get there. And if not, whatever.”

The 2020-21 NHL regular season was reduced to 56 games and began in January because the 2020 Stanley Cup Final ended Sept. 28 after last season was paused due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.

McDavid scored 97 points (34 goals, 63 assists) in 64 games last season, 13 behind Draisaitl for the NHL lead. Draisaitl played seven more games.

Edmonton (30-17-2) is second in the Scotia North Division, nine points behind the first-place Toronto Maple Leafs and five points ahead of the third-place Winnipeg Jets. The top four teams in the division qualify for the postseason; the Maple Leafs have clinched.

Video: CGY@EDM: McDavid races in and scores PPG for 1-0 lead

It has been 25 years since a player scored at least 100 points through the first 56 games of a season. Mario Lemieux (116) and Jaromir Jagr (104) of the Pittsburgh Penguins each did it in 1995-96. It has happened 29 times in NHL history.

Scoring 100 points in 56 games is a pace of 1.79 points per game. McDavid is at 1.78 points per game through 49 games and would need 13 points in Edmonton’s seven remaining games (1.86 points per game) to reach 100.

The Oilers visit the Vancouver Canucks on Monday (10 p.m. ET; SNP, SNW, NHL.TV) for the first of five remaining games against them. McDavid has scored eight points (five goals, three assists) in five games against Vancouver this season (1.60 per game). Edmonton’s other two games are against the Montreal Canadiens, and McDavid has scored eight points (two goals, six assists) in seven games against them (1.14 per game).

McDavid’s points-per-game average has risen each season since he averaged 1.07 as a rookie in 2015-16. He scored 1.22 points per game in 2016-17, 1.32 in 2017-18, 1.49 in 2018-19 and 1.52 last season; he would finish at 1.55 per game this season without scoring a point in the final seven games.

McDavid seems to be rising to the challenge of reaching 100 points. The 24-year-old has scored 18 points (six goals, 12 assists) in his past seven games, an average of 2.57 points per game.

“If he does that, we should have a fairly good chance to win some games here in the last few (weeks),” Oilers goalie Mike Smith said. “Nothing ceases to amaze me with this kid. It’s incredible how he continues to get better and better and the harder it gets, it seems like when he gets shut down one game, the next game he’s that much more hungry to get out there and help the team win.

“It says a lot about the maturity of him as a person and everybody knows how incredible he is on the ice, but I’ve seen a young man grow into a leader on this hockey club. Obviously, a huge part of why we’ve had success this year. So impressive to watch a young guy like that take this team on his shoulders and to do what he’s done this year is an incredible feat.”

There have been 11 games this season when McDavid didn’t score a point. In the 11 games following those, he has scored 24 points (10 goals, 14 assists). He has been held without a point in consecutive games once, a three-game stretch against the Maple Leafs from Feb. 27-March 3.

McDavid was held without a point when Edmonton lost 3-1 to Calgary on Thursday but followed that up with a goal and two assists Saturday.

“It’s pretty amazing,” Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said. “We know how special a player he is, but to be able to do it every night is another story. He does it in practice every day too, so we do get a taste of it. But obviously he’s having a special season and he’s a pretty spectacular player.”

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