Edmonton Oilers superstars Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid find themselves in unfamiliar territory early in the 2023-24 campaign, out of a playoff spot and mired in concurrent scoring slumps.
Draisaitl leads the 5-10-1 Oilers with 21 points but sits at only six goals after bagging 50-plus each of the past two seasons, while McDavid is fifth on the team with 13 points in 14 games after setting the league ablaze with a career-best 153 last year.
“We were saying that the other day,” Draisaitl said, per Sportsnet’s Mark Spector. “This has never happened, that both of us have felt this way.
“It’s a bad time.”
Draisaitl and McDavid finished first and second in scoring in three of the past four seasons. The Oilers made significant progress on the backs of their dynamic duo, reaching the Western Conference Final in 2022 before racking up 109 points – their highest total since 1985-86 – in 2023.
Edmonton ranks 28th in goals this season, and its usually dominant power play is operating at a mediocre 22.8%.
“Certainly not to our standard,” Draisaitl said. “Things are seemingly a little harder right now than they normally are, and that spirals a little bit. You know, we’re human beings, and we care a lot. I’m working on finding my game as soon as possible.”
Although it’s been a difficult start, McDavid is optimistic he and Draisaitl will return to the form to which they’re accustomed.
“Listen, we’ve done it for a long, long stretch of time. And we’ll get back there again,” he said. “We don’t stop believing, even though everyone else might. We believe, not only in ourselves but in each other, in our group.”
The Oilers’ next game comes Monday against the Florida Panthers. They’re 2-1 since replacing Jay Woodcroft with Chris Knoblauch behind the bench.