McDavid reserves judgment on Oilers early exit, says defense is an issue

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Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid still wasn’t ready to sift through the ashes of an early NHL exit after the season a week later.However, McDavid agreed with GM Ken Holland’s assessment that Edmonton’s defense was not strong enough against Chicago in the best of five qualifying rounds.

The Oilers scored 15 goals in four games, but dropped 16. A season interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic ended on August 7 in a 3-2 loss.

“The teams that win are the teams that defend,” McDavid said on a conference call Friday. “We haven’t seemed to understand that yet. This is not where it should be. ”

WATCH | McDavid looks for the silver lining after being knocked out by Chicago:

Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins answered questions from the media after being knocked out of NHL qualifying by Chicago. 6:09

Edmonton (37-25-9) was the fifth seed in the Western Conference. Chicago (32-30-8) was 12th.

Under new GM and new head coach Dave Tippett this season, the Oilers were less porous due to a penalty kick that dropped from 30th overall in the NHL in 2019 to No.1.

Edmonton was also slightly better defending five-on-five with an average of 2.16vs per game compared to 2.18.

But the hosts downtown allowed three power-play goals in a 6-4 loss to Chicago to start the series at Rogers Place.

Edmonton has scored one goal in every game. The Oilers were leading 3-2 as they approached the final period of Game 3, which ended 4-3 in favor of Chicago.

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“I think we’ve taken a step in the right direction in knowing what we need to do to be successful,” McDavid said.

“We did that most of the time in the regular season and obviously when it came to the point where it mattered most we let the ball go. ”

The 23-year-old led all scorers in the NHL restart with five goals and four assists in the qualifying round, including a hat trick in Game 2.

Teammates Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Leon Draisaitl produced five goals and nine assists between them.

Holland told media earlier this week that goaltenders Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen didn’t perform as well as the duo in the regular season, but the general manager also saw defense as a team responsibility.

“In the end, we gave up too many goals,” Holland said.

The captain needs time to clear his head

McDavid needs more time to fully analyze a season that he and the franchise planned to be longer than it was.

“When it’s so sudden it’s very easy to get frustrated and you just don’t think clearly,” McDavid said. “You have to clear your head first. Take the positive and the negative and figure out what went wrong.

“I would have liked to have had an answer for you, but obviously we are missing something. I am not sure what it is. And I’m sure everyone will come back to regroup and try to figure out this exact question.

McDavid, of Richmond Hill, Ont., Is a generational player who won the NHL scoring race at 20 and 21. He has seen the playoffs only twice in five years in the league.

WATCH | Tippett frustrated with the Oilers’ early elimination:

Oilers bench boss Dave Tippett spoke to the media following the disappointing departure from Edmonton before the NHL playoffs. 9:11

The Oilers reached the second round in 2018 and failed to make the first round in their own arena this summer.

“There’s a taste in everyone’s mouth that nobody likes,” Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse said. “You have to find a way not to have that taste and we’ve had it four out of five years here.

“It was great getting to a point where we were in that bubble and playing for our life every night, but we weren’t at the level we needed to expand it. ”

McDavid offered Tippett a vote of confidence for the latter’s first season behind the Oilers bench.

“Everyone thinks he has that stereotype of a defensive-minded coach, and he is, but he’s always promoting offense. I really like where the systems are.

“On a personal level, I think he does a great job of building relationships with his players. Definitely like working with Tip. “

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