ST. LOUIS – Edmonton Oilers rookie Connor McDavid said he didn't have any trouble falling asleep on the eve of his professional debut.
But when he woke up on Thursday he said it finally hit him.
"In the days leading up I wasn't really thinking about it too much," McDavid said. "Kind of when I woke up this morning, I guess that's kind of when it hit me that I'll be playing in my first NHL game. I think that's when I first realized."
When the Oilers played the St. Louis Blues 3-1 on Thursday night, all eyes were on the 18-year-old McDavid, the No. 1 overall pick in the draft and the most hyped player to enter the NHL since Sidney Crosby of the Penguins made his debut a decade ago.
In a 3-1 loss, McDavid took 22 shifts, played 18:07 and was on the ice for one of the Blues' goal. He had two shots on goal and struggled on face-offs — winning only three of 13.
"I did some good stuff, did some bad stuff," McDavid said.
Speaking in front of a crowd of reporters on Thursday following his team's morning skate, the soft-spoken rookie admitted to having some butterflies but said he felt pretty good and was excited to get going.
"It's just special," McDavid said of his NHL debut. "I'm living out my dream, so there's nothing better than that. I'm just really looking forward to tonight."
McDavid centered the Oilers' second line against the Blues with Taylor Hall on the left wing and Anton Slepyshev on the right.
Hall was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 draft, while Slepyshev will also be making his NHL debut on Thursday night.
"We all see what he can do in practice and the games," Hall said of McDavid.
"It's important to remember he's 18. I'm 23 and I still have bad games. Sidney Crosby is the best player in the world and still has bad games. There's going to be some trials and some errors, but I think that he's in a position to succeed and it's going to be fun to watch him grow."