Edmonton Oilers overcome slow start, nervous finish for 5-3 win in the desert: Cult of Hockey Player Grades

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The Edmonton Oilers surrendered the 1 st goal of the game for the 9 th time in their last 10 starts, this time Wednesday to the lowly Arizona Coyotes.

But after a rough patch where the Desert Dogs out shot the Oilers 7-1, Edmonton slowly wrestled the momentum and then the game away from them. Arizona rallied late, but it was not enough to change the final result…a 5-3 Oilers win.

Too close for comfort, against this level of competition? Fair. But the 2 points will look no different in the standings. And it was the newly formed #1 line of McDavid-Draisaitl-Kassian that drove the train.

Of specific note: Connor McDavid was drilled into the post by Ilya Lyubushkin, immediately after the 1-1 goal. There was no call. Honestly…is the NHL really o.k. with potentially losing their marquee player on a dirty, dangerous play like that against a Micky Mouse franchise like the Arizona Coyotes? Shame on the referees. Let’s see if the league takes it’s head out if it’s you-know-what and suspends the offending player. This must stop.

Here’s the tale of the tape…

Edmonton Oilers Player Grades

MIKKO KOSKINEN . 6. Made a very big stop on Phil Kessel with the Coyotes already up 1-0 and Mikko’s teammates struggling to find their footing. And he stoned Kessel again on a Power Play attempt a few shifts later. I would forgive Koskinen the 4-2 goal that went 5-hole as it was a tougher deflection in close. And while his stumble perhaps made it easier to score the 4-3 on him, in all fairness it was not the goalie who handed the puck away at the blue line. Koskinen saved his best for last, though, with a key save off Gostisbehere with the game on the line. As good as he needed to be.

CONNOR McDAVID . 8. The turning point of this game was the 1-1 goal. Not only did Connor McDavid dig in deep and pot one in a tough area of the ice. But I thought the subsequent push-check that drove him clavicle-first into the post also pissed him off, because from there on in 97 “played angry”. And that was bad for Arizona. 97 earned an assist on the 3-1. He fed Drasiaitl as Leon chugged into the slot on the 4-2. And then 97 salted the game away with an empty netter. 6 shots. 3 hits. Was 36-16, 69% in All Events CF. His first assist was the 400 th of his career. Named the game’s 2 nd Star.

ZACK KASSIAN . 8. Elevated to the 1 st Line and made his coach look like a genius with an excellent, 3 rd Star performance. Had 5 shots on net. Was net-front on the 2-1 goal and earned an assist when the Ceci shot went of his chest. Scored the 3-1 by pushing hard off his man in front and then one-timing home a neat pass by Draisaitl. Earned his final assist on a neutral-zone give-and-go with McDavid on the empty netter. The lone mark against him was on the 1-0. When Barrie darted into the slot to take a pass, Kassian was the high man in the zone at the time. He was also the 1 st forward back but did not arrive in time.

LEON DRAISAITL . 9. Dominant. Earned his first assist on a feed to McDavid net-side for the 1-1. Hammered home the 2-1 from a familiar spot off to the side of the Arizona net. And it was a smart defensive stick seconds earlier that helped turn the puck over.Fed Kassian with a perfect pass in the slot for the 3-1. Then powered to the net, beating 2 men in the process, and fired home a perfect feed from McDavid for the 4-1 (and the eventual winner). Managed to just barely make his skate blade bite enough blue line to prevent himself from being offside on the 5-3. Named the game’s 1st Star. Leads the NHL in goals and points with a remarkable 20-20-40 in 19 games. Draisaitl is the only player in franchise history other that Wayne Gretzky to hit 40 points in less than 20 games. Also of note, came to his Captain’s aid when McDavid was drilled after the 1-1. And much like Connor, I thought Draisailt was in a foul mood (in a good way) the rest of the evening.

PHILIP BROBERG . 7. The kid looks like he has always played in this league. A shot and a hit in 21:29. That’s a bunch for just Broberg’s 3 rd career NHL game. On for 3 High Danger Chances Against and just 1 For. One of the defensive hi-lights for him was a solid play on Phil Kessel in the neutral zone in the 1st Period. The way Broberg can skate, it allows him to not only be dangerous offensively but enables him to correct even when his defensive reads are off a little bit. Tantalizing talent.

CODY CECI . 8. Ken Holland sure got a lot of heat when he signed Cody Ceci to the contract in the off-season. But 19 games in, the bet has paid off handsomely. Asked to handle even more tough situations due to injuries, Ceci thrived in those situations. Earned an assist when his point shot went off Kassian and was then promptly deposited into the net by McDavid. Wisely shepherded his young partner Broberg through some tough minutes. Steady Eddie.

RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS . 6. The 2 nd line never really got on track tonight. But I thought that Nugent-Hopkins was the best of the 3. His All-Events Corsi numbers were better than 2-to-1 in his favor. He had 7 shots on net, and in the face off circle where he is usually challenged…Nuge was 71%. A bit unlucky on the 4-3 goal, where the puck glanced off his skate and to the shooter.

ZACH HYMAN . 6. Hyman put in one hell of an effort but wasn’t rewarded on the scoresheet. Had 4 shots, drove hard and wide repeatedly. Stripped a couple pucks and turned then back the other way. He’s a bit snake-bitten right now. With efforts like this, the goals will come. His line was on the ice for the 4-3.

KAILER YAMAMOTO . 4. The least effective of the trio on the 2 nd line. Was on the ice for 4 High Danger scoring chances against and just 2 For. 1 shot, a give-away and -1 in 16:04. A 3rd Period strip led to a Nugent-Hopkins chance. Got running around in his own zone a bit on the 4-3. Chipped in 1:46 shorthanded.

KRIS RUSSELL . 8. The veteran was thrust into the #1 D-man role due to injured to Darnell Nurse and Duncan Keith and delivered in spades. Led the blue line crew in TOI with 22:56. High Danger chances were 7-1 in the Oilers’ favor with Russell on the ice. 3 hits, 3 blocks (1 shy of the career NHL record in this category) and a well-deserved +2. 2:42 on the PK to boot. Terrific, gritty effort. Best in his familiar 3rd pairing, he rose to the occasions tonight.

TYSON BARRIE . 8. Barrie and Russell formed a very reliable veteran pairing. Like Russell, Tyson Barrie was on for 7 High Danger Chances For, and just 1 against. Earned his first assist on the 1-1 goal and is 2 nd on the 4-2. Had 2 shots of his own and added a hit in 22:07. Was on for the 1-0 goal but it wasn’t Barrie’s fault the high forward failed to cover for him when he pinched in for a dangerous chance for.

RYAN McLEOD . 5. McLeod flashed his speed repeatedly throughout the game but couldn’t convert much of it into offence. His best chance was a 2 nd Period 2-on-1 but he couldn’t pull the trigger on a nice pass from Puljujarvi. Did have one bad neutral zone turnover. 67% on his draws.

WARREN FOEGELE . 5. Worked hard but didn’t accomplish a whole lot. The flow of play was in the Oilers favor when he was on the ice. Bad 2nd Period turnover.

JESSE PULJUJARVI. 5. Offered a nice feed to McLeod on a 2-on-1 break but his teammate was handcuffed on the play. And did contribute to the sequence on the 1-1 Power Play marker. But was otherwise quiet. 1 shot, 0 hits in 12:11.

WILLIAM LAGESSON . 4. William Lagesson’s 5-alarm turnover off a soft clearing attempt resulted in the 4-3 goal. Too bad, as the rest of his game was reasonably solid by any metric except +/- (-1).

EVAN BOUCHARD . 5. Played the second-least amount of all 6 of the Oilers D-men on the night on what was a sheltered 3 rd pairing. Had 2 shots and a hit. Come out on the better side of high danger chances for/against.

COLTON SCEVIOUR . 6. The 4 th line was probably the Oilers 2 nd best unit on the night. We haven’t been able to say that much this year. In fact, it was a 1st Period shift by this trio in the Arizona end that helped swing the momentum in Edmonton’s favor. An otherwise solid night was marred by the 4-2 goal, where Sceviour did pick up his man but then failed to tie him or his stick up on front.

TYLER BENSON . 6. 8:16 of ice-time is actually one of his busiest evenings in the NHL so far this season. And Benson played well. Threaded a lovely pass from behind the Coyotes net that Colton Sceviour couldn’t cash on. Sceviour later returned the favor with a nice 3 rd Period feed that Benson couldn’t bury. 2 shots, 2 hits. Over-committed to the weak side of the ice on the 4-2 goal.

KYLE TURRIS . 5. Was on the ice for the 4-1 but correctly picked up his man and steered him safely past the post. 0 shots, 1 hit in 10:27. The line did put together some effective shifts where they were able to hem Arizona in.

The Oilers are now 14-5-0 on the season, 1 points back of the Flames in the Pacific but with a game in hand on their Provincial rivals

Source: EdmontonJournal