Player grades: Edmonton Oilers carry play but can't solve Bobrovsky, drop opener 3-0

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Oilers 0, Panthers 3

Edmonton Oilers had their moments in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals, just not enough of them. The Oilers carried the play for large swaths of the game, generating a number of great scoring chances, but were unable to bury any of them against a red-hot Sergei Bobrovsky in the Florida Panthers cage.

Didn’t help that Florida scored on their first shot just 4 minutes in and led the whole rest of the way. The Panthers added another early in the second and the scoreboard stubbornly held at 2-0 right to the bitter end when the de rigueur empty netter added insult to injury.

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As mentioned, Edmonton did hold the edge in play, outshooting the Panthers 32-18 on the night. By our video analysis at the Cult of Hockey, the Oilers had 16 Grade A Shots to just 8 for the Panthers, though the most dangerous 5-alarm shots were a little closer at 8-6 EDM (running count). Nonetheless, it was the first time all playoffs that the Oil lost a game by 2 clear goals (empty netters excluded).

Player grades

Cult of Hockey game grades player grades

#2 Evan Bouchard, 6. The possession arrow pointed hard north during Bouchard’s game-high 27:17, with Oilers attempting 50 (!) shots in that time to just 14 against. That does include a 14-0 margin on the powerplay, where again the Oilers generated quite a few chances but no joy. 16 of those shot attempts came off Bouch’s own stick, though just 4 were on goal with 9 blocked and another 3 missing the target. His puck movement was hit and miss, with a few errant passes including 2 giveaways among them. Drew a penalty. Contributions to Grade A Shots (GAS): Even Strength +4/-2; Special Teams 0.

#5 Cody Ceci, 3. Reunited with Nurse for reasons unknown but with results all too familiar. Each player ended up -2 with identifiable errors on both goals, the only 2 that mattered on this night. Ceci was unable to cut out a pass on what for him was a 2-on-1 after Nurse got beat by an earlier pass, in the process leaving the deadly Carter Verhaeghe alone in front. On the second goal, Ceci lost a race to a shoot-in by Sam Bennett, this despite having a decent head start. But Bennett, who initially shot the puck deep from the blueline, beat Ceci to the puck and slipped a pass through the slot to Evan Rodrigues who pounded it home. It was otherwise a decent game for the rearguard, who had strong on-ice shot shares along with 4 hits, 3 blocks, and 2:01 on the 2-for-2 penalty kill. But those 2 goals ruined his night. GAS: ES +0/-2; ST +0/-1.

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Edmonton Oilers and Florida Panthers

#13 Mattias Janmark, 7. Very solid 2-way game. Involved in 2 of Edmonton’s very best chances: first when he bumped Broberg’s stretch pass through to Henrique for a breakaway chance; then a semi-breakaway opportunity of his own that forced one of Bobrovsky’s best stops. Held his own in the extended scrum that ensued, in which he was one of 4 men sent to the box. Another good night on the PK with a team-high 2:04 of successful work on the unit that has now killed 30 in a row. GAS: ES +2/-0; ST 0.

#14 Mattias Ekholm, 6. Oilers dominated possession when he was out there, though he had a couple of spotty defensive moments. Had 10 shot attempts but only hit the target with 2 of them, wasting a couple of decent looks in the process. 3 hits, 2 blocked shots. GAS: ES +1/-3; ST 0.

#18 Zach Hyman, 5. Had a great chance just 20 seconds in, correctly went high on Bobrovsky, but bounced it right off the stopper’s mask. A huge turning point, in retrospect. Another was his weak backcheck on the 1-0 goal, in which his line got burned for a rink length 3-on-2. Could Hyman have reached the goal scorer by coming back hard the whole way? We’ll never know. Likely just a bit of of rust very early in the game, but that goal was a dagger. Got in Bob’s kitchen a couple of times, and was fortunate to avoid the sin bin for the collision featured at the top of the page. GAS: +5/-2; ST +1/-0

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#19 Adam Henrique, 6. He’s a more physical player than I for one was expecting. Delivered more of that with 7 hits including a real heavy check on Oliver Ekman-Larsson that left the Swede leaking a little. Blocked 2 shots. Just 1 of his own but it was a doozy, a first-period breakaway in which he executed his deke to the backhand pretty well but couldn’t get the puck over Bob’s lightning-quick left pad. Made a great wall/aerial/stretch pass that sent Janmark in alone. Just 4/15=27% on the dot on night the Oilers as a team struggled in that department. GAS: ES +2/-0; ST 0.

#25 Darnell Nurse, 3. Played just 16:09, lowest of the defence, very rare for him. As with Ceci, played mostly OK but with a couple of bad moments that had a major impact. Facing a 3-on-2., he over-committed to the puck carrier near the boards and was cleanly beaten by the subsequent pass that sprang the 2-on-1 down low, and the goal. Then on the 2-0 he appeared surprised by Bennett’s centring pass which skittered just under his stick right to the goal scorer. Other than that, also similar to Ceci: 4 hits, 2 blocks, 1:20 on the PK, good shot shares at evens, and in his case a very nice stretch pass to create a decent look. But another -2 to show for all that. GAS: ES +1/-2; ST 0.

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#27 Brett Kulak, 5. Very quiet night, although that’s not all bad for a lower-tier d-man. 0 shots, 0 hits, 0 blocks, but also 0 mistakes on Grade A shots. Spent a bit too much time in his own end of the ice, judging by a 5v5 Corsi of just 36%. GAS: ES +0/-0; ST 0.

Edmonton Oilers and Florida Panthers

#28 Connor Brown, 6. The only Oiler to put the puck in the net, alas it was a split second after the (correctly-blown) whistle. Brown could see the puck the whole time, but it was partially pinned under Bobrovsky’s pad after he stuffed the Janmark breakaway. Not credited with a Grade A or indeed a shot of any type on the sequence but it was a hard-nosed attempt, as was the scrum that followed. Played his usual role on a penalty kill unit that hasn’t allowed a goal in 11 games. GAS: ES +0/-0; ST +0/-1. 

#29 Leon Draisaitl, 6. Delivered 4 shots and 4 hits in a mostly-industrious performance. Made a great stretch pass to send RNH in alone for a rare powerplay breakaway. Slick one-touch feed across the slot to McDavid, Oilers’ best chance of the final frame. Made a truly horrendous line change when he followed both of his linemates to the bench as Florida transitioned the puck the other way, leading to a 4-on-2 rush that had 3 cracks at it including a very dangerous shot. 11/23=48% on the dot. Drew a penalty. GAS: ES +4/-2; ST +2/-0.

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#37 Warren Foegele, 5. Returned to the line-up, played OK, didn’t really move the needle. Did manage a couple of Grade A shots within seconds of each other in the second period, otherwise quiet offensively. GAS: ES +2/-0; ST 0.

#55 Dylan Holloway, 6. Fired a dangerous one-timer off a Draisaitl feed that produced an even more dangerous rebound that Bouchard nearly jammed home. Otherwise a solid game up and down his wing, with 4 hits and 1 sloooow line change. Made a nice steal and centring pass to Draisaitl for a half-chance. Nailed Brandon Montour with a good hit. GAS: ES +2/-1; ST 0.

#71 Ryan McLeod, 4. Made a decent pass that Foegele tipped on net from close range, otherwise quiet offensively. 1 shot, 0 hits. Among the several Oilers to be worked if not outworked by Bennett on the 2-0. GAS: ES +1/-1; ST 0. 

Edmonton Oilers and Florida Panthers

#74 Stu Skinner, 5. Played mostly OK, but his timing wasn’t the greatest. Beaten by the first shot he faced, then replicated that in the second period. Both were legit 5-alarm shots caused by a series of defensive issues not involving the goaler; still a big save would have helped on a night the guy at the far end was delivering them by the peck. Did make a few fine stops; by our methodology he faced 2.5 expected goals, and allowed 2 actual goals. Most nights that’s good enough for the high-scoring Oilers. Alas, this wasn’t most nights. 17 shots, 15 saves, .882 save percentage.

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#86 Philip Broberg, 7. The youngster continues to impress in an expanding role. Played 17:55, third among Oilers blueliners behind only Bouchard and Ekholm, and earned that time with solid play. Has really settled in to the task of being first to the puck and moving it quickly. An especially fine example of that was the stretch pass he sent to the far blueline where Janmark directed it to Henrique for a breakaway. Made a terrific shot block to thwart the first and perhaps best shot (of 3) after the botched line change. GAS: ES +2/-1; ST 0.

#90 Corey Perry, 3. Among those beaten by Bennett on the 2-0. Took an interference penalty in the third that interrupted the club’s sputtering comeback. Not enough going on at the good end of the ice to make up for it. The only Oiler in single-digit minutes at 8:45. GAS: ES +0/-1; ST 0.

#91 Evander Kane, 4. Not so much as a shot attempt by the hard-driving winger, let alone an actual shot. Was involved in the physical side of the game with 3 hits, but was on the receiving end of 5 including 2 by Bennett and 3 by Matt Tkachuk. I didn’t mind his “accidental” collision with Bennett a little while after the Florida man had done similar to McDavid, cutting #97 in the process. Yet a third party in the terrible line change. GAS: ES +2/-1; ST 0.

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#93 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 6. His best moment was a first-period breakaway in which he put an excellent move on Bobrovsky but wasn’t able to beat his left pad to the far post. Had some good moments on both special teams. Had a great rebound chance on the PP, but blasted it just over the cross bar. The only Oiler above break-even on the dot, with 3/5=60%. GAS: ES +1/-0; ST +1/-0.

Edmonton Oilers and Florida Panthers

#97 Connor McDavid, 6. Was flying right from the drop, creating the great early chance for Hyman by surprising Bobrovsky with his speed and getting a piece of the goaler’s intended clearing pass. Made a key early mistake when he lost positioning as the high forward on Aaron Ekblad’s sharp breakout pass, leading directly to a 150-foot 3-on-2 by Florida’s first line and ultimately, the game’s first goal. Worked his tail off to get it back but it just never happened, despite 8 contributions to Grade A shots and a game-high 6 shots off his own stick. Tried to do a bit too much on his own on occasion, including a 1-on-4 type rush towards the end of two different failed powerplays. Drew a penalty, and likely should have drawn another when Bennett collided with him miles from the puck, with the captain getting cut in the process by what appeared to be a high stick. Alas, the only reason the whistle went was that McDavid had been knocked into an offside position by the contact, which was deemed accidental. Further proof that it just wasn’t Oilers’ night. GAS: ES +5/-1; ST +3/-0.

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