Edmonton Oilers head coach Ken Hitchcock expressed his frustration Sunday night with opponents slowing down star centre Connor McDavid and not being called for penalties when doing so.
“I’m not going to comment on the penalties,” Hitchcock said after the Oilers 4-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks. “But the stuff that really bothers me is what is happening to Connor. We’re a league that is supposed to showcase our top players, and you don’t want to give them all the freedom, but the tug of war on him was absolutely ridiculous today.”
The Oilers had just one power play on Sunday, coming off of a high-stick by Canucks defenceman Alex Edler. Edmonton, meanwhile, was whistled for five minor penalties on the night.
For the season, McDavid has drawn a total of 10 penalties, ranking 17th in the NHL. He drew 27 penalties last season and Hitchcock said McDavid deserves more calls this season, especially since he's currently averaging 22:38 of ice time per game.
“That’s a little bit discouraging to be honest with you,” said Hitchcock of the lack of calls against McDavid. “Because I can see the whackin’ and hackin’ going on when he’s got the puck, but to me it’s all the stuff behind that doesn’t allow him to showcase his speed. And if that’s what we want, well, that’s fine. But I think it’s a real disservice to a player like him.
“He’s not allowed to play give-and-go. It’s give-and-hold. So we’re going to have to figure out a way to fight through it. We’ll just play toughness with him and figure it out from there.”
The 21-year-old, who posted an assist in Sunday's loss, has 19 goals and 49 points in 33 games this season. He has six goals and 15 points off of the power play.