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Oilers’ two-headed monster of McDavid and Draisaitl puts on a desert clinic

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You could say, “Sure, they only beat the Arizona Coyotes.”

But we would counter with, “Yes, but they did it with the entire left side of their defence on the injury list, in the second of back-to-back games.”

Then you could say, “Ya but, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl carried the Edmonton Oilers again.”

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And to that, we would counter, “Uhhhhh….”

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After a rough night in Dallas Tuesday, the Oilers kept intact their skein of not having lost two straight games all season long, as the big boys romped in a 5-3 win at Arizona. Since Dave Tippett became the head coach Edmonton is 15-5-1 in the first game of back to backs and 16-5 in the second game.

Draisaitl and McDavid each had two goals and four points Wednesday, splitting up 14 shots on net in a desert clinic that featured a couple of milestones.

“Connor and Leon were feelin’ it tonight. That always helps,” said Oilers defenceman Tyson Barrie, marvelling at the fact that perfect pair have 40 and 36 points respectively in just 19 Oilers games. “If you would sit here you’d say, I guess, it’s unsustainable. But every night those two are doing something. I don’t see them slowing down any time soon.

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“It’s incredible,” Barrie continued. “Tonight, in the third period, they’re flying around the O-zone and having five chances in one shift. It’s great for the game. They are two guys who are just entering their prime. They’ll be a lot of fun to watch for a lot of years.

“The game is in pretty a good place with those two at the helm.”

Two-Headed Monster

Tippett put his top two players on the same line Wednesday, after a night in Dallas Tuesday in which the offence just never got going. Their response: four goals and eight points combined for Draisaitl and McDavid.

How dominant are these two? Get a load of these numbers:

Through 19 games Draisaitl leads the NHL in points (40), goals (20), multi-point games (12), power-play goals (10), game-winning goals (6), points per game (2.11), points on the road (19), third-period goals (9) and third-period points (18). He has 27 goals in his past 25 NHL games, and his 40 points in 19 games this season make Draisaitl the first player in Oilers history not named Wayne Gretzky to have 40 points prior to the 20-game mark of a season.

“It’s pretty good,” Tippett said, “’cause I know the other guy (Gretzky) was really, really good.”

Only five NHL players have scored 50 goals in their team’s first 50 games of the season: Gretzky, Lemieux, Maurice Richard, Brett Hull and Mike Bossy. No question, Draisaitl could be the sixth.

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“I think it’s a little crazy to think I’m going to score 50 goals in 50 games,” he said after Wednesday’s game. “Right now pucks are going in for me, but this is a tough league to score in. I don’t expect to hit that stat at all.”

Then there is McDavid, who notched career assist No. 400 on a goal by Zack Kassian. With the helper — in career game No. 426 —McDavid becomes the fourth fastest player in NHL history to record 400 assists, behind Gretzky (290 games), Mario Lemieux (353) and Peter Stastny (411).

Broberg, Bro

So, what do the Oilers have in defenceman Philip Broberg, now that we’ve seen him play just three NHL games? With the injuries, Broberg’s ice time has increased from 14:24, to 18:59, to 21:29 Wednesday.

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At just 20 years old, Broberg skates like a young Jay Bouwmeester — and we don’t throw that comparison around lightly. He’s six-foot-three. Could he one day become the player that Oscar Klefbom was before his bum shoulder took him down?

What has Tippett noticed in his first glimpse of the eighth-overall pick from the 2019 draft?

“His skating and his poise,” began Tippett. “It’s been really noticeable. Skating has always been a strength of his. But the poise, and thinking at an NHL level, has improved greatly.”

Tippett feels like Broberg has adapted to the North American style and rink size since he last saw the defenceman. Time and space are the biggest adaptations when a European D-man crosses the pond.

“He’s not putting himself into trouble,” Tippett said. “In the European game, you have lots of time in your own end, lots of space to hold on to the puck. Here, he’s being smart with it. At the offensive blue line he’s getting pucks through quickly…

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“There is still lots of room for improvement, but he’s taken steps forward. We’ve asked him to play some pretty big minutes, and he’s done very well.”





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Steve McNair comes to Eddie George in his dreams: "See you're not dead, and I wake up"

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Eddie George reveals to Shannon Sharpe that his former MVP teammate Steve McNair visits him in his dreams. Eddie said: “There’s not a day I don’t think about it. I dream about him a lot.” Eddie goes onto to share a great Steve McNair story, highlighting his maturation as a player.



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The Chargers Have Difficult Offseason Decisions To Make

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(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

 

The Los Angeles Chargers could be losing a few key contributors in the offseason.

Not only are these players a big part of their offense, but they are fan favorites as well.

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Keenan Allen and Gerald Everett are the most likely cap casualties for the Chargers, considering that they contribute to almost $20 million in cap space.

Allen was the third leading receiver for the Chargers in 2022, and Everett was the fifth.

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If they are to get cut or traded, the team will need to replace two high-impact players, not only for the team as a whole but for Justin Herbert as well.

Herbert has continued to grow as a passer, and Allen and Everett’s reliability are some of the reasons for his continued success.

The team may have to go back to the drawing board, either looking to the draft for a receiver or targeting free agency for a few budget weapons.

2022 marked the first time that the Chargers have made the playoffs since 2018.

Even though they ended up losing that game, it was a step in the right direction.

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The worst thing for the Chargers would be to take another step back, which is likely what would happen if both Allen and Everett leave.

From a historical lens, teams have been creative when navigating their cap situation, which is something that the Chargers could explore if they want to retain at least one of these players.

What will the Chargers look like in 2023?

Will Herbert be able to win his first playoff game?

The post The Chargers Have Difficult Offseason Decisions To Make appeared first on The Cold Wire.

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The Thunder Continue To Improve Their Postseason Chances

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(Photo by Ian Maule/Getty Images)

 

Most people thought that the Oklahoma City Thunder didn’t have much of a chance at greatness in the 2022-23 season.

That was even more true when they lost their rookie player, Chet Holmgren, to injury in the summer.

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And while the Thunder are still far from the top of the Western Conference standings, they are repeatedly impressing fans across the league.

The team has been surging since 2023 started.

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So far in the new year, the Thunder are first in offensive rating, first in net rating, first in points per game, first in three-point percentage, and have the sixth-best record since New Year’s Day.

Yes, they are currently the 12th team in their conference but they are just one game back from being qualified for the play-in tournament.

This last month has been spectacular for OKC.

They have beaten the likes of the Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets, Denver Nuggets, Cleveland Cavaliers, and others.

Their latest victory came on Saturday night when they decimated the Houston Rockets, 153-121.

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The importance and power of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander cannot be stressed enough, he has been leading the team in multiple ways.

So far this season, Gilgeous-Alexander has averaged 31 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 5.6 assists.

On Saturday night, he had yet another stunning game with his 42 points.

Of course, he has been getting a lot of serious help from Josh Giddey (16.2 points, 8 rebounds, and 5.9 assists), Lugentz Dort (14.1 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 2.3 assists), Jalen Williams, and others.

The Thunder have a packed week ahead, facing off against the Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers, Portland Trail Blazers, and New Orleans Pelicans.

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Can their impressive January lead to an impressive February too?

The post The Thunder Continue To Improve Their Postseason Chances appeared first on The Cold Wire.





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