McDavid-less Edmonton Oilers soundly defeat Vegas 5-1: Cult of Hockey Player Grades

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The Connor McDavid-less Edmonton Oilers looked no worse for it on Wednesday night, thoroughly out-playing the defending Stanley Cup Champion Vegas Golden Knights in a 5-1 victory.

In as complete of a team performance as we have seen this season Edmonton dominated at both ends of the risk, in goal, on special teams, you name it.

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The club passes the 100-point mark for the 3rd consecutive season, and creeps to within 3 of Pacific leading Vancouver.

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Perhaps notable: Connor McDavid was standing at the dressing room door to congratulate his teammates. Good sign.

Here is the tale of the tape…

Edmonton Oilers Player Grades

Cult of Hockey game grades player grades

STUART SKINNER. 7. Solid stop on Howden in the 1st. Booted out pucks from Marchessault and Mantha.  A kick save off Amadio was his best of the bunch in the 1st, but his mates had the better chances at the other end. Solid stop of a Hague point shot and a rebound early in the 2nd. Stopped Mantha on a partial break in the 2nd. Stopped Eichel on an initial shot and a rebound in the 3rd. Stopped 19 of 20, had little chance on the breakaway goal he surrendered. While Skinner did not face a truckload of shots he was nonetheless the best goaltender on the ice on this night, and that is all that matters at the end of the day.

LEON DRAISAITL. 8. An attacking zone interception led to a Bouchard point shot. Sent Hyman in for a terrific chance later in the 1st. Hammered a slapper off the far post near the end of the opening stanza. An early 2nd Period giveaway in his own zone led to a protracted Vegas fire drill. Snapped a hard back-hand in front for a Nugent-Hopkin s 1-timer, the rebound from which Hyman swept home. Beat 3 defenders with a tremendous pass Nugent-Hopkins could not quite drain. Blasted a 1-timer from the faceoff dot for the 4-1. 3 hits. 56% on draws. Led the club with a 5v5 CF of 25-14, 64%.

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RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS. 8. On the win for the top line which was consistently the best on the ice versus any opposition Vegas could throw at them. A 1st Period wrist shot forced a sharp right pad save by Hill. Drilled a 1-timer on set, creating a rebound that Hyman swept home for the 3-0. Great chance right in front off a tremendous Leon pass. A sweet feed to Desharnais who fired it high. Primary assist off just a lovely pass for the 4-0. The game’s 2nd Star.

ZACH HYMAN. 7. Dangerous 1st Period shot from a nice set-up from Draisaitl off the rush. Returned the favor in the same period up the right-hand side, leading to a Draisaitl post strike. Hard work along the wall started the play on the 3-0 then he finished it, swatting home the rebound from about five feet out. His 53rd. Secondary assist on the 4-0. 4 shots.

DARNELL NURSE. 6. Shot from the point earned Nurse a 2nd assist on the 1-0. Slick pass across to Holloway for a good chance. 2 fine defensive plays in his own zone on the same 2nd Period shift. Beaten up the middle short-handed on the 4-1. 3 hits. High Dangers 5-2 5v5.

CODY CECI. 7. Solid as a rock. A well-timed pinch up the wall then the puck on net, where it ricocheted in for the 1-0. High Dangers 5v5 5-2.

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ADAAM HENRIQUE. 5. A pass from behind the goal line led to a Grade A chance by Kane. Smart back-check prevented a fast-developing odd-man rush.

EVANDER KANE. 6. A shot right from the top of the crease after a nifty pass from Henrique. A shot on the PP during a goal mouth scramble. Right in the goalie’s face on the 4-0. 3 shots, 2 hits.

WARREN FOEGELE. 5. Split the D on a hard-charging drive to the net early in the 2nd. Fed Bouchard for a good point shot.

MATTIAS EKHOLM. 7. Hammered home the 2-0 with a high, hard Howitzer for his 11th, a career high. A hard pass in front that Holloway’s stick was lifted on at the last split-second. Beaten short-handed on the 4-1. 4 shots, +2. Led Oilers D in 5v5 CF at 21-15, 58%.

EVAN BOUCHARD. 7. Drew a 3rd period PP. Part of a great passing play on the 4-0. Deserved the primary assist on the 5-1 by putting the puck deep, then Dylan Holloway did the rest. 3 shots, 2 hits, +3.

RYAN McLEOD. 8. This 3rd line made something every shift they had in the 1st including the 1-0 on which McLeod earned the primary assist with a deflection attempt net side. Snapped a terrific pass across the zone to Ekholm for the 2-0. 2 primary assists. Great game. We often say that McLeod “skated miles” but that does not always return result. It sure did this evening, as the speedy Mcleod and Holloway were often more than Vegas could handle. Named the 1st Star.

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DYLAN HOLLOWAY. 8. A force in his first NHL game since March 5th. Dylan Holloway announced his return to the NHL loudly with a hard hit on McNabb in his first shift. A poke check relieved Eichel of the puck, followed by a blocked shot. Part of a terrific shift by Line 3 leading up to the 1-0. A good opportunity early in the 2nd off a fine pass by Nurse. Part of a dogged cycle leading up to the 2-0 with Holloway the net front. Sticked lifted on a great chance in front created by Ekholm. Stormed into the Vegas zone, taking advantage of an Aiden Hill error and beating the Vegas defender to the puck. A wrap-around by 55 later and it was 5-1. +3 in 12:40. How do you take him out of the lineup after a performance like that? The game’s 3rd Star.

COREY PERRY. 7. Part of a highly effective trio. Secondary assist on the 2-0. Withering shift from this line a few minutes later, they did all but score. On a line with two roadrunners, Perry was the perhaps the Wile E Sidekick with one smart little veteran play after another. Highly effective.

BRETT KULAK. 5. Saved a goal late in the 2nd by sweeping a loose puck off the goal line at the far post. Kulak and Desharnais did not have great sot shares but they were solid over-all.

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VINCENT DESHARNAIS. 5. Fine defensive play by Big Vin to negate a dangerous Karlsson in the high slot. Contained Cotter with a solid play in the 2nd. 5 hits.

SAM CARRICK. 6. Nice pass to Kulak whose shot careened high. A shot on net in the 2nd, drawing a slashing call in the process. 50% on the dot.

MATTIAS JANMARK. 5. Solid 2nd Period back check. Many smart veteran plays in evidence that help add up to a good team game.

CONNOR BROWN. 5. Good keep & shot in the 1st. A partial break led to another shot late in that same frame. Skated well.

Edmonton’s record now sits at 48-24-5, 101 points. 3 back of Vancouver in the Pacific with a game in hand.

Find me on Threads @kleavins, on Instagram at LeavinsOnHockey, Mastodon at [email protected], and X @KurtLeavins.

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