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Next up for the Bruins? Slowing down Connor McDavid amid his historic season

Next up for the Bruins? Slowing down McDavid amid his historic season originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Bruins are on track to have the best regular season of any team in NHL history. Their fans have been treated to brilliant hockey on a nightly basis.

These same fans will witness the latest chapter in another historic campaign Thursday night at TD Garden when the eventual Hart Trophy winner as league MVP comes to town.

It’s becoming harder and harder to find appropriate words to describe the incredible season Connor McDavid is having for the Edmonton Oilers.

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The superstar center is putting together the best season of the salary cap era (2005 to the present) and dominating the competition on a nightly basis in a way we haven’t seen in a long time.

“What McDavid is doing to the league right now, it’s truly incredible,” Bruins forward Brad Marchand told reporters Wednesday. “He’s definitely one of the best players to ever play the game. It’s special to watch first hand. We only get to see him twice a year. Watching the highlights every night to see what he does and then finally playing against him — we “We’re still fans of the game, and it’s a lot of fun to witness history first hand and be able to say we all played against him. That’s pretty cool.”

There is no “race” for the Hart Trophy.

Bruins right wing David Pastrnak is having one of the best offensive seasons in recent team history. B’s goalie Linus Ullmark leads almost every notable stat for his position. Buffalo Sabers right wing Tage Thompson and Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov are both putting together amazing campaigns, too. Each of these players has a compelling case to be a finalist for this award, but there is only one legitimate choice for MVP and it’s McDavid.

McDavid leads the NHL with 124 points in 65 games. The next closest player is his teammate, Leon Draisaitl, with 96 points. McDavid leads the league in goals with 54 — 10 (!) more than Pastrnak in second place. McDavid also tops all players with 70 assists.

He recently scored multiple goals in five straight games.

The Oilers captain is on pace for 156 points. The only players in league history to tally 156 or more points in a single season are Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux. McDavid is on track to become the first player to lead in goals, assists and points since Lemieux in 1995-96.

McDavid’s consistency has been just as remarkable as his eye-popping stats. He has failed to tally a single point in just six of the 65 games he’s played in. He has more 4-point games (nine) than games with zero points (six).

You’d think the Bruins would pose a significant challenge for McDavid. The B’s rank no. 1 in goals allowed, No. 1 in penalty killing and No. 1 in save percentage. Their blue line is loaded with quality defenders. Patrice Bergeron and Marchand are two of the best two-way forwards of this generation.

And yet McDavid scored twice the last time these teams met on Feb. 27 in Edmonton. McDavid has 16 points (four goals, 12 assists) in 10 career games versus the Bruins.

The Bruins ultimately won the last meeting 3-2, but like every other team, they couldn’t slow down McDavid. The B’s will get another shot Thursday night when McDavid brings an 11-game point streak to the Garden.

“You don’t know if you can stop him, you just try to slow him down any way you can,” Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk. told reporters Wednesday. “There’s different ways to try to do it. Honestly, it’s puck management. If we have the puck and he doesn’t, things are better for us.”

Even with McDavid’s historic season, the Oilers are still not a lock to secure a playoff spot in a tight Western Conference race. They occupy the first wild card playoff berth and sit two points behind the Seattle Kraken for third place in the Pacific Division. They are in good shape, but a late-season slide could put them in jeopardy of missing the postseason.

But regardless of whether the Oilers qualify for the playoffs, McDavid is the easy pick to be MVP. No other player has the kind of impact for his team that McDavid does. It’s not even close. Edmonton would be in the Connor Bedard sweepstakes if not for the brilliance of its captain.