Wings eager for another crack at McDavid

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Edmonton, Alberta — Defenseman Xavier Ouellet thought he had the play defended well.

Playing against the Edmonton Oilers and otherworldly forward Connor McDavid, Ouellet had McDavid in his sight, gapped well, and help on the way. And, then, McDavid decided to go all turbobooster.

“I was kind of angling him and I thought everything was fine, and then he decided to accelerate,” Ouellet said, the memory coming into focus. “So he’s kind of deceiving, and suddenly two or three strides, he was gone.

“That’s something you need to address and you have to find a way to play and not get tricked into that.”

The Red Wings on Sunday get another opportunity at McDavid, who at the tender age of 20 won the NHL’s MVP award last season.

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McDavid is off to a quick start this season with 16 points (five goals) in 12 games, after earning 100 points (30 goals) last season while leading the Oilers into the playoffs.

What makes McDavid such a unique talent?

“Just the ability he has to make plays at such a high speed,” Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “That’s probably what seperates him. He can do things at such a high speed that most people can’t do. AA (Andreas Athanasiou) does it a bit, as well as Larks (Dylan Larkin), he can do things at a high speed, but McDavid is one of the masters of it.”

Though offense is McDavid’s trademark, his work on the defensive end makes him a complete player.

“Todd (McLellan, Oilers coach) has done a good job (coaching McDavid), he’s a complete player a guy who they’ll win a lot of games with, as they did last season, and will this season,” Blashill said.

Depending on how the teams decide to match, there’s a good chance Larkin will get opportunities to go head-to-head against McDavid.

And if that’s the case, Larkin is looking forward to it.

“He’s one of the best one-on-one players in the world,” Larkin said. “You don’t see it very much, but how he takes guys on and skates by them or puts the puck through their legs, it’s fun to watch. You can’t take your eyes off him for a second. I watched the game last night (McDavid had three assists in a 6-3 win over New Jersey) and he seems to make something happen every time he’s on the ice.”


So, who are the Red Wings?

The team that began 4-1-0? Or the team that was winless in six games after the quick start? Or, the one that won two consecutive games after the losing streak? Or, the team that lost in Ottawa to begin this road trip?

Talk about streaky.

“Consistency has to be our identity throughout the whole season,” Larkin said. “A tough six-game stretch, and we come back and win two and we dropped one, we have to be get right back on track.”

Blashill has been satisfied with the consistency of the quality of play, but wants to see his team improve in specific details that could carry the Red Wings a long way.

“We’ve been in every single game, but we have to find ways to win more of them,” Blashill said “We have to score dirtier goals, score ugly, and draw more power plays. Our attention to detail has to be better than the other team’s detail.”


Goaltender Jimmy Howard was scheduled to rejoin the team Saturday night after attending a family funeral. Blashill likely will go with Petr Mrazek against Edmonton, and Howard the next night in Vancouver.

Mrazek hasn’t played since Oct. 20, an overtime loss against Washington.


Faceoff: 4 p.m. Sunday, Rogers Place, Edmonton, Alberta

TV/radio: FSD/97.1

Outlook: Edmonton (4-7-1, 9 points) has gotten off to a poor start, with little secondary scoring and defensive problems causing headaches…The Red Wings (6-7-1, 13 points) play in Vancouver the next day.