After a bit of an up-and-down start to the season by his standards due to having to fight off two different illnesses, Connor McDavid is now back to full tilt for the Oilers and it showed with his impressive four-point performance on Tuesday in Columbus.
With 39 points in 31 games, McDavid is now in sole possession of third in NHL scoring. Last season, McDavid had the exact same totals as he does this year through 31 games (12 goals, 27 assists, 39 points, +6 rating) and last season, McDavid ended up leading the NHL with 100 points. He has 20 points in his last 14 games which is a 117 point pace and nine points in his last six games which is a 123 point pace.
Oilers head coach Todd McLellan attributes McDavid's recent uptick in part to the fact that he's able to handle more ice time.
"There were nights (when he was ill) where he was down to 15, 16, 17. So he's on the ice more. He's on the ice more because his energy level is up," McLellan began. "When the energy level is up, you can play hard both ways -- offensively and defensively -- you can win races that you would normally win. You can get more out of your shift later. He's always had great lungs and great legs where he could play hard and fast even 40 or 45 seconds into a shift where a lot of guys would begin to fade and are looking to get off.
"That all adds up to him having a better game."
McLellan added that the first illness wasn't a typical flu that a lot of players have to go through in a season.
"It took a lot out of him. There was probably not enough made out of the first illness. The second one was just a common one that everybody else had. You combine the two and it takes a little off you."
Mark Letestu added that the team feeds off the energy that McDavid can bring to the game.
"I think he's getting rewarded, too. He's getting on the scoresheet more often now. To me, his approach has been the same. He hasn't wavered, he hasn't gotten frustrated at least in our room. When he's going, the team goes. He's the heart of our team. He drives us. When he's going like that, it's certainly easier to strap them on and go play as hard as he is."