Cult of Hockey game grades: Have Oilers goalies made a big save yet this year?

Cult of Hockey podcast with one angry Oilers fans & the other seriously ticked off

It was Ground Hog day for the Edmonton Oilers. For the fourth straight game, the opposition team scored on its first or second scoring chance of the game.

And, yet again, the man in this Oilers net, this time Laurent Brossoit, went through the game while arguably not making a single big save. 

It’s near impossible to win in the Dead Puck Era NHL when you spot the opposing team two or three goals early on, as the Oilers have done so far this year. 

Edmonton outshot the Carolina Hurricanes 51 to 21, outchanced them 19 to 7 (that’s counting only hard or dangerous shots ON net), and had 7 Grade A chances to four for the Canes.

Edmonton even scored three goals and finally had one go in that was of “B” quality. But the until Edmonton’s goaltending improves, the wins won’t come. 

Connor McDavid, 6. The coach ran him hard, with 26:31 of icetime in the hopes of some McDavid magic. And McD did hit the post. He also set up Patrick Maroon with a beautiful breakaway pass, which could have tied the game late in the third. On the downside, McD’s work on the PK is below average, with the Oil’s star often out of position to stop passes. He allowed a cross-seam on the third Canes goal.

Patrick Maroon, 1. That penalty he took in the first was utterly self and undisciplined. I would have been fine if he’d been benched the rest of the game. Of course,  he redeems himself if he scores on that breakaway, but he didn’t score.

Kailer Yamamoto, 6. He’s got some offensive skill and hustles hard, but still isn’t finding a way to score, which is the job when you’re on McD’s wing. He did have a nice jam play at the net, which enabled Mark Letestu to score.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 5. Was involved in two late game scoring sequences, but he also puck-watched and let his man in free on the fifth coffins nails Carolina goal. That was a rookie mistake and RNH is no longer a rookie. Won 13 faceoffs, lost just seven, so there’s that too.

Milan Lucic, 6. Got a goal, played with nasty purpose, looked like a solid NHLer.

Ryan Strome, 6. Beautiful goal on a deflection, plus made a nice rush and move to set up Lucic’s goal. This was more like the player I saw on the Islanders last year, a useful forward with some game. Chipped in on six scoring chances, not one mistake on a chance against. 

Mark Letestu, 6. He had four hits, one greasy goal, won 11 of 17 faceoffs. That is more like it. 

Iiro Pakarinen, 6. Was in on two scoring chances, including setting up Strome for a dangerous look on the power play early in the first period. Looks better on the PK than any other Oilers forward, which might well keep him in the line-up.

Jussi Jokinen, 6. Looks slow and unable to cover off the passing lanes on the penalty kill. But a beautiful feed on Strome’s goal. He chipped in on seven scoring chances in total. The man can still make a pass, even if he has me wishing the Oil still had Benoit Pouliot on the PK. 

Zack Kassian, 5. Shame he did not drain that breakaway shot late in the first period. It was the only scoring chances he contributed to this game. He only got 4:44 of ice, so must have been in coach Todd McLellan’s bad books for some reason. I can’t think of any other reason to play him so little. Maybe it was that penalty he took late in the first. 

Brad Malone, 6. He drew two penalties, made a few nice passes, battled hard and made the most of his eight minutes of ice.

Anton Slepyshev, 5. Nothing too good or bad. Needs to make more of an impression in the game, even if it’s just puck protecting more down low. 

Oscar Klefbom, 2. Yikes. This was the Oscar Klefbom we saw too much of last year, the one who leaks Grade A chances against. Was a major culprit on the first, third and fourth Carolina goals. He had some good moments moving the puck, but not enough to make up for his major gaffes, all of which were severely punished.

Adam Larsson, 2. I also had him making mistakes on three goals against, screening Brossoit on the second, getting sucked out of position to allow a two-on-one on the third, then allowing too much gap on the fifth goal. Little wonder the coach broke up his top pairing. Me, I like the unit of Larsson and Darnell Nurse. Might want to go with them in a tough minutes role, and try to free up Klefbom to attack more.

Yohann Auvitu, 5. He had five shots and made just one mistake on a chance against, but I’m still seeing Brad Hunt out there, NHL passing and AHL defending.

Eric Gryba, 6. Moved the puck OK, had five hits, did his job fine.

Darnell Nurse, 7. He was the best Oilers player. I didn’t see him make one mistake on a scoring chance against. He led the team with seven hits, many of them hard and nasty. He moved the puck with authority. He joined the attack in dangerous fashion (for the opposing team, not his own).

Kris Russell, 6. No complaints. His sweet cross-seam pass to Jokinen was integral to Strome’s power play goal. He made not one mistake on a scoring chance against. Whatever ailed the Oilers in this game, it wasn’t Russell or Nurse.

Laurent Brossoit, 2. He faced seven scoring chance shots and let in five goals. Now one might argue he didn’t let in any stinkers (and Bruce McCurdy does argue just that in our podcast), but he also failed to make any big saves. Every time Carolina had a great chance, they buried it, and that’s not nearly good enough. A solid NHL goalie will stop Grade A chances 75 per cent of the time, not zero per cent of the time.

Staples on the city

How upset king Jon Diadzyk won a city council seat with just $1,200 in campaign donations

Jon Dziadyk gets a hug after finding out he won in Ward 3.

At the Cult

McCURDY: Brossoit gets the start

McCURDY: Five red flags for the Oilers, & one big green one

STAPLES: Hey Oilers fans, how about we all take a chill pill?


Source: EDMONTON