Player grades: Defensive blunders plague Edmonton Oilers in 4-3 loss to the Vancouver Canucks

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The Edmonton Oilers came out hard and mustered an impressive amount of offensive thrust, but a series of horrendous defensive miscues, most notably by veteran Darnell Nurse on Vancouver’s third goal, plagued them and led to a 4-3 loss.

Vancouver’s goalie Casey DeSmith also outplayed Edmonton’s Stuart Skinner by a wide margin.

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The Grade A shots (which go in 25 per cent of the time on average) were 21 for Edmonton, just six for Vancouver, with the subset of 5-alarm shots (which go in 33 per cent of the time on average) was ten for the Oilers, six for the Canucks.

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game grades

Leon Draisaitl, 8. The Oil’s best layer by far. He made 12 major contributions to Grade A shots, not one major mistake on a Grade A shot against. The big man set the tone early on. Great start, pushing Vancouver d-man Tyler Myers off the puck to set up RNH in the slot, but no goal. A moment later he failed to score on a 5-alarm shot off his own at the side of the net but in that same battle, he finally forced the puck in. He almost made it 2-0 a few minutes later, but Casey DeSmith got a frantic glove on his Executioner’s Shot, his deadly one-timer where he lashes his stick at the net. He picked off Noah Juulsen’s horrendous pass on the PK, leading to Edmonton’s second goal. He drew a penalty leading his line on another fierce forecheck. He failed to cash in a glorious rebound opportunity off a Bouchard snapper in the second. Had three wicked power play shots, one a backhander, two others harpoons, mid-way through the third but failed to drain them. Grade A shots: ES +6, -0: ST, +6, -0.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 7. Much more good than bad. Failed to drain Drai’s brilliant pass in the first minute. But he won the puck back and helped set up Drai’s early 5-alarmer, then got another shot with Drai finally cashing in on the rebound. He failed to block off the outside shot on Vancouver’s second goal. He fired a hard outside wrister on the power play in the second that DeSmith somehow missed for his third point of the game. Grade A shots: ES +4, -1: ST, +3, -0.

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Zach Hyman, 7. Solid work. Huge effort on the first Edmonton goal, bashing around until he and his linemates finally scored. He got handsy on a forecheck and took an early penalty, which the Canucks cashed in. His d-zone turnover kicked off the Sequence of Pain on Vancouver’s second goal. He helped win the puck battle on Edmonton’s second goal. Almost drained a rebound off a Bouchard outside shot. Grade A shots: ES +5, -1: ST, +1, -0.

Connor McDavid, 7. Good game, but needed to orchestrate more goals. Held back by two linemates still not up to speed. He moved fast on an early power play and set up Drai’s first harpoon of a one-timer. He fished out the puck on the net front scrum to score early in the second on the power play. He almost tipped a Ceci shot in. Grade A shots: ES +3, -0: ST, +7, -1.

Connor Brown, 3. Not yet bringing his “A” game, not even close. Not one major contribution to a Grade A shot. He was quiet early on but did some great forechecking work on a long Edmonton cycle in the second. His offensive zone turnover in the third started off the Sequence of Pain on Hoglander’s goal. Grade A shots: ES +0, -1: ST, +0, -0.

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Evander Kane, 3. He looks a step behind and with iffy hands just now. Brutal but legal body check on Filip Hronek in the first. But not making enough of a positive impact on the game. Grade A shots: ES +0, -0: ST, +0, -0.

Ryan McLeod, 7. At least his line has some jump. He puck protected well to help set up a Foegele Grade A in the second. He made a smart play to get the puck deep for a necessary line-change. He broke in early in the third for a Grade A rush shot, then set up Holloway in the crease for another Grade A. He charged up ice to set up Holloway for a dangerous shot a few shifts later. Grade A shots: ES +4, -2: ST, +0, -0.

Warren Foegele, 5. His aggressive forecheck on Myers led to a battle won and dangerous shot in the first. He completely missed the net on his shot, kicking off the Sequence of Pain jailbreak on Vancouver’s third goal. A moment later he went hard to the net to for a Grade A shot. Grade A shots: ES +3, -1: ST, +0, -0.

Dylan Holloway, 7. Looking good. His quick feet and hard forecheck drew a penalty on Hronek early on. Almost drained a slot shot mid-way through the third. Grade A shots: ES +2, -0: ST, +0, -0.

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Mattias Janmark, 4. He failed to contain Quinn Hughes’ outside shot on Vancouver’s first goal but that’s no easy play. Grade A shots: ES +0, -0: ST, +0, -1.

Adam Erne, 4. Barely played, just 6:13. Grade A shots: ES +0, -0: ST, +0, -0.

Derek Ryan, 4. Barely played, just 5:27. Grade A shots: ES +0, -0: ST, +0, -0.

Darnell Nurse, 2. Just a horrendous play by Nurse on the third Vancouver goal as he wandered aimlessly up ice on an Edmonton break, allowing a 2-0 Vancouver breakaway. The Oilers already had four men on that rush, but Nurse decided to go all-on for some reason. That may be the worst play he’s ever made in the NHL, mainly because he’s a veteran now and can’t make this kind of mental error. He was bumped down to his low grade due to that play, as it was so significant. Grade A shots: ES +3, -1: ST, +0, -0.

Cody Ceci, 2. He wandered too far out of the defensive slot, allowing two 5-alarm slot shots from Connor Garland early in the second. Terrible play by Ceci. Like Nurse, he made a colossal mistake charging up and getting caught out of position on Vancouver’s third goal. Just awful. Grade A shots: ES +1, -3: ST, +0, -0.

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Evan Bouchard, 7. Moved the puck wel; and bounced back defensively after a rancid first game. Hammered an outside shot in the second that Hyman almost jammed home. He did well quarterbacking the power play, moving the puck well. Grade A shots: ES +1, -0: ST, +0, -0.

Mattias Ekholm, 4. A bit rusty with some of his puckmoving in the first but looked sharp as the game progressed. Then came Hoglander’s rush goal in the third, where he simply blew by Ekholm, still in pre-season form obviously. Grade A shots: ES +0, -1: ST, +0, -0.

Philip Broberg, 6. Solid game for the young defender. He played his off-side on the right and did well. Maybe a bit late to stop Kuzmenko’s tip goal on Vancouver’s first period power play. He charged in from the blueline to set up a Foegele rush and shot in the second. Grade A shots: ES +1, -0: ST, +0, -1.

Brett Kulak, 5. Like Ekholm, still shaking off the rust of his preseason injury, with some iffy puckmoving. He failed to take Nils Hoglander’s stick on Vancouver’s second tipped goal. But some good plays as well. Grade A shots: ES +1, -1: ST, +0, -0.

Stuart Skinner, 4. He didn’t let in any stinkers, but he failed to make big saves when needed. He let in four goals on six Grade A shots, not close to what you’d like to see. Made his first big save stopping a Pius Sutter break-in shot five minutes into the game. He had little chance on Kuzemenko’s tipped in goal, nor on Hoglander’s goal, two goals that we like to call the Californian, in honour of Brett Burns and Joe Pavelski combining on so many such goals against the Oilers over the years. Two huge saves on Garland early in the second. A save would have been nice on Hoglander’s third period rush goal, but not to be.

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