Player grades: Another horror show in Vancouver as Oilers fall 6-2

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Oilers 2, Canucks 6

The story to this game was written in the first period in which Edmonton Oilers came out guns blazing, outshooting Vancouver 9-0 in the first 2½ minutes and 19-2 by the 11 minute mark. But once again last year’s league-leading offensive club struggled to capitalize, scoring just once in that barrage as Thatcher Demko stood tall in the Canucks cage. Then the Canucks got the puck over the Edmonton blueline a couple of times, and BAM! BAM! It’s 2-1 Canucks. They scored a third on the powerplay minutes later, and just like that the Oilers were skating uphill for the rest of the night.

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By game’s end the 3-1 deficit at the first Zamboni had doubled to 6-2. The hot start was long forgotten as the Oilers once again struggled to score, to defend, or to deliver timely saves. Emotions boiled over with all of Mattias Ekholm, Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and ultimately coach Jay Woodcroft losing their cool with a pair of power-tripping referees who, to be frank, had a bad night.

While the display of emotion was in some ways a welcome sight, the attendant loss of discipline was not helpful, especially against a terrific Canucks powerplay that converted on 3 of their 6 chances. No doubt the Oilers noticed the deployment of their first unit right into the game’s 60th minute where they connected for the final insult.

This was yet another game where the underlying stats bore little relationship to the scoreboard. The Oilers outshot their hosts 42-36, and had narrow advantages in high danger chances (15-14) and expected goals (3.96-3.90) in all situations. Our own analysis at the Cult of Hockey had Grade A shots dead even at 13 apiece, but the Canucks with a 9-6 edge in the most dangerous, 5-alarm shots (running count).  Tellingly, though, the Oilers gave up 3 more goals off the rush while scoring none themselves, and now have an unfathomable 6 for, 21 against ledger on rush goals at even strength.

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In short, a decent effort in this game but too many of the same old problems resurfaced as have killed them all year.

Player grades

#2 Evan Bouchard, 3. Decent shot shares (13-6 Oilers at 5v5) but little of impact. 1 shot, 1 hit, 1 giveaway and 2 bad mistakes on the same Vancouver goal, a bad pinch followed by a weak backcheck just 3 minutes after the Oilers had cut the deficit to 3-2. Contributions to Grade A Shots (GAS): Even Strength +1/-5; Special Teams +0/-0.

#5 Cody Ceci, 4. OK at even strength, but burned twice for powerplay goals. GAS: ES +0/-1; ST +0/-3.

#10 Derek Ryan, 5. Drew a penalty call early in the game when he appeared to take a high stick in the face, but the stripes reviewed it and decided no, it was an elbow in the face, not a high stick, therefore no penalty. Made no sense in the moment and still doesn’t. Needed time in the room to staunch the bleeding but came back to play 8½ minutes of decent 2-way game. GAS: ES +1/-0; ST +1/-0.

#14 Mattias Ekholm, 5. Opened the scoring with a booming slapshot on the (second unit!) powerplay. But was beaten for a goal on the other special team later in the period, albeit on another fortuitous bounce for Brock Boeser. Took an extremely marginal penalty for a waist-high cross-check against a stumbling Nils Hoglander that saw the usually implacable Swede arguing his case vociferously. GAS: ES +0/-2; ST +1/-1.

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#18 Zach Hyman, 4. Very quiet game, with the most notable moment being when he stepped in with J.T. Miller after the edgy Canuck had taken some perceived liberties with McDavid. Lost his footing before any serious point was made, with both men getting minors. GAS: ES: +0/-0; ST +0/-0.

#25 Darnell Nurse, 7. Played a hard, strong game. Terrific stretch pass to McDavid on the game’s first shift. Made a fine rush and shot on a third-period penalty kill. All over the event summary with 8 shot attempts (3 on net), 8 (!) hits, and 2 blocks. During his 20½ minutes in all situations, the Oilers outscored the Canucks 2-0. Alas, they got outscored 0-2 during the (ahem) 32 seconds he spent in the penalty box, taking one penalty for clearing the crease and another in garbage time for roughing up Hoglander. Kept a clean sheet defensively. GAS: ES +2/-0; ST +1/-0.

#27 Brett Kulak, 3. On the ice for 2 Canucks goals at even strength and 2 more on the penalty kill. Contributed 0 shots, 0 hits, 0 blocks in the process. Oilers need more from the vet. GAS: ES +0/-2; ST +0/-1.

#29 Leon Draisaitl, 6. Brought it offensively with 5 shots on net including his first goal in 3 weeks, breaking an 8-game drought. But undid much of that with a weak backcheck on the second Vancouver goal, even as the shot that resulted from the sequence seemed highly stoppable. Took a rare misconduct in the third period for reasons unknown, in the aftermath of a sequence where McDavid also got sent to the sin bin for a marginal infraction. 17/27=63% on the faceoff dot. GAS: ES +5/-1; ST: +1/-1.

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#37 Warren Foegele, 6. Among the most noticeable Oilers as usual, though not always in a good way as he made small mistakes on 2 Vancouver goals. Made a fine play to set up Draisaitl and appeared to score one of his own to cut the deficit to 4-3 early in the third, only to have it disallowed for a perceived kicking motion. 5 shots on net including an early breakaway that he couldn’t cash. GAS: ES +3/-2; ST +0/-0.

#55 Dylan Holloway, 6. Teamed up on an effective line with Draisaitl and Foegele, with all 3 co-leading the team with 5 shots on goal. A soft backcheck early left Pius Suter open for a shot from the high slot that found twine, on what we deemed a Grade B shot. But affected the game in good ways thereafter, barging to the net time and again. Involved in the second Oilers tally when he collided with Demko behind the net, and had a role on Foegele’s disallowed goal as well. On yet a third hard charge to the net he was crosschecked hard in the numbers by Miller, with the lack of a penalty call leading to Woodcroft’s outburst and ejection. Also landed 4 hits and made a lot happen in his 11 minutes  GAS: ES +3/-0; ST +1/-0.

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#57 James Hamblin, 5. Emergency recall comported himself well in 11 minutes of action with 1 shot, 2 blocks, and 3/4=75% on the dot. Solid in his own end. GAS: ES +2/-0; ST +0/-0.

#62 Raphael Lavoie, 5. Robbed of his first NHL goal by Demko, who got the skinny shaft of his paddle on a labelled rocket from the slot. 2 shots, 2 hits in just under 10 minutes. GAS: ES +1/-0; ST +0/-0.

#71 Ryan McLeod, 6. Quietly effective with 2 shots, 2 hits, a takeaway, and 4/6=67% in the faceoff circle. Played much of the game on left wing with McDavid and looked comfortable in the role. GAS: +2/-0; ST +1/-0.

#73 Vincent Desharnais, 3. His second straight tough outing since being promoted to #6D. Worst moment by far came midway in the first, when he attempted to break up Quinn Hughes’ hard goal mouth pass only to deflect it straight into his own net for the 1-1. Took a penalty moments after the Oilers had cut the deficit to 3-2. GAS: ES +0/-2; ST +1/-0.

#74 Stuart Skinner, 3. Allowed a stone cold killer of a goal against when Suter put an unscreened wrister right through him from the high slot that put the Oilers behind to stay at 2-1 despite outshooting Vancouver 19-4 at that point. Later beaten from distance again when Miller beat him short side from distance (wicked shot, but appeared to be unscreened). Made a number of fine saves, especially in the third period when Oilers started to come apart at the seams, but by then the damage was done. 36 shots, 30 saves, .833 save percentage. Of qualified goalies (4 GP) he ranks 50th and last in the NHL at a dismal .856.

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#89 Sam Gagner, 5. Set up Ekholm’s powerplay goal with a nifty cross-ice pass. Oilers were mostly chasing the game during his 10 minutes at even strength, with the squad mustering just 1 shot during that time. GAS: ES +1/-1; ST +1/-0.

#91 Evander Kane, 4. Barged around and banged bodies (4 hits), but just 2 of his 7 shot attempts found the range. GAS: ES +0/-1; ST +0/-1.

#93 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 3. His dry spell continues, now at 8 games since his last goal. Just 2 assists and an ugly -8 in that interval, with Monday’s 0-0-0, -1 just another fruitess showing, 3 shots on net but nothing dangerous. GAS: +0/-3; ST +0/-0.

#97 Connor McDavid, 6. Came out guns blazing in the first, creating a pair of Grade A shots on his first shift. Just 2 more the rest of the way, though. Kept playing with edge and gave as good as he got, which was plenty as the Canucks played him hard all night. Nothing to show for it offensively, however; has produced just 2 secondary assists since his return to the line-up 4 games ago. 8 shot attempts (3 on goal), 2 hits, and another so-so night on the dot (7/18=39%).  His 22:43 led all forwards. Like his entire team, the captain needs something to break his way at some point. GAS: +3/-2; ST +1/-0.

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