There will be a time, one has to believe, when Connor McDavid will be established as a perennial postseason participant. Of the two immensely powerful forces at work — McDavid's incomparable talent and the anchor-like limitations of the Edmonton Oilers franchise — this optimist chooses to believe the greatest player on the planet will single-handedly supersede those issues eventually and overcome all that's held him back in the first phase of his career.
It's possible we're there now, but only until we know for certain we will turn our attention to the next underserved star held back by timelines, trajectories, mismanagement, managerial ineptitude, or whatever it is that prevents them from seeing a sniff of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
While there are many candidates, would it be a surprise if Brady Tkachuk was that guy?
If you happened to catch the Ottawa Senators' shootout win over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night (which proved to be far more consequential than previously believed), you know the Stanley Cup playoffs is a stage built for an hombre like Tkachuk.
A night which featured multiple goals, bloody knuckles, broken teeth and a milestone, too, as the 21-year-old force of nature became the youngest in history to score 50 with the franchise, Tkachuk's performance was a throwback to a previous era.
Had the stakes been higher than, well, what will amount to really a nothing game in a shortened season in February for the Senators organization and its fans, this was the sort of performance that would live forever in Senators lore.
"Brady Tkachuk dragged us into that battle," Senators coach D.J. Smith said of his star forward. "I don’t know if he’s had a better game since he’s been here.”
"That's the best game I've seen him play, hands down," defenseman Erik Gudbranson added.
Let us, then, give the performance a proper acknowledgement.
Many NHL players have the potential to score a couple goals.
Tkachuk did that, notching his fourth-career multi-goal game with an equalizer that would set the stage for Ottawa's extra-time victory.
Some are tough enough to demand back on the ice immediately after having multiple teeth shattered by an errant stick.
Tkachuk did that, immediately factoring on the power play he earned with blood still gushing from his mouth and a smile damaged forever from the force of Shea Weber.
Few have the the ability to take matters into their hands against any and all customers.
Tkachuk did that, earning retribution for rookie Tim Stutzle by landing a clean enough blow to break skin on Ben Chiarot, the intimidating opponent who drove his teammate and roommate head first into the ice a few weeks ago.
And to Tkachuk's credit, there's probably just the one with the sort of good nature and humility to sit in the penalty box, in just his shoulder pads, to just have a laugh about it like he did.
This, my friends, was peak Brady Tkachuk — at his very best, and at his most entertaining, in a game boosted only by the fact that it showcased a regional rivalry.
Imagine the effort, and the entertainment, when the bullets are really flying a few years down the line.
Make it happen, Ottawa.
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