Player grades: Edmonton Oilers "make things stressful" but shut down Vancouver Canucks in Game 7 win

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“We know how to make things stressful,” said Connor McDavid after it was all over, something of an understatement  even as the Edmonton Oilers gutted out a 3-2 win in Game 7 over the Vancouver Canucks.

Never in doubt, as my Cult of Hockey colleague Bruce McCurdy likes to say.

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The Oilers came close to letting Vancouver back in the game in the last minutes, until a smart time-out by coach Kris Knoblauch after Vancouver’s second goal calmed the team. Vancouver did not have a Grade A shot on net after that.

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But for much of the game, the Oil’s defensive play was outstanding,

I’d always hoped the Oilers would finally get one strong checking line, but out of nowhere, it seems, Knoblauch has come up with two of them  (Ryan, McLeod, Foegele and Brown, Carrick, Janmark). Again, they were not perfect, but did solid work all game, bottling the Canucks up with relentless and tenacious checking.

The defensive effort was particularly adept at guarding the Edmonton slot, a huge weakness in other playoff seasons, but evidently a priority of this Oilers team. They’re tired of losing to inferior teams, it would seem.

In the end, the Grade A shots in the game were 13 for the Oilers, eight for Vancouver, with the subset of 5-alarm shots four for Edmonton, just three for the Canucks. The score was indicative of the overall play.

Cult of Hockey game grades player gradesConnor McDavid, 7.

He did not go supernova this game but he and his buds got the jobs done in a gritty effort. He finally got rolling on Edmonton’s early second period power play, moving for a slot shot that Hyman almost jammed home. He lost the faceoff leading to Vancouver’s second goal. He played just 20:31, a testament to the team effort.

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#97 Contributions to Grade A Shots (GAS): Even Strength: +1/-1; Special Teams +3/-0.Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 8.

Great game, huge goal. His special team success continued with solid PK work in the first, then he jumped on Bouchard’s rebound on the power play to snap in Edmonton’s third goal. A back-breaker of a goal, putting up the Oilers up three and coming late in the second.

#93 GAS: ES +1/-0; ST +1/-1Zach Hyman, 7.

Came through once more. He charged up ice and went hard to the net for an early Grade A. He executed a solid puck protect, pass, goalie screen, and tipped shot on Edmonton’s second goal, with Arturs Silovs caught looking out on the wrong side of Hyman on Evan Bouchard’s outside shot.

#18 GAS: ES +3/-0; ST +0/-0Leon Draisaitl, 7.

He got on ice for just 4:09 in the first, while J.T. Miller was at 9:10. He flubbed a power play one-timer attempt in the second, then got stoned by Cole/Silovs on a deadly harpoon a moment later. He made the pass to set up Bouchard’s one-timer on Edmonton’s third goal. He had some mistakes on defence in the second but blocked Garland’s shard shot late in the period. He allowed Di Guiseppe in on a third period breakaway but the Canuck missed the net. But some solid defensive plays in the last minutes.

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#29 GAS: ES +1/-3; ST +4/-0Evander Kane, 6.

He blasted Cole with a hard hit in the first. In a battle for supremacy of the Apex Predators, he out-raced Nikita Zadorov for a puck and almost scored on his break-in.

#91 GAS: ES +0/-0; ST +0/-0Dylan Holloway, 7.

He’s flying out there. Jumped on a loose puck and fired on net for Kulak’s great rebound shot early in the first. He won the face-off then executed a fly-by screen on Ceci’s goal. He launched a one-timer harpoon on net a moment later off a Draisaitl cross-ice pass.

#55 GAS: ES +3/-2; ST +0/-0Ryan McLeod, 5.

Good game but one ugly mistake. He threw a hit, won a board battle and set up Ryan for a decent shot early on. But he got his stick up, taking a four-minute penalty late in the first, ending a rough shift against the Miller line. He breathed some life into the Canucks when he whiffed on an own zone pass in the third, allowing Connor Garland a clear shot and goal.

#71, GAS: ES +0/-1; ST +0/-1Derek Ryan, 7.

He shut things down, which is his job. He charged in early on and almost jammed in a misplayed puck by Silovs.  Part of strong PK late in first.

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#10, GAS: ES +0/-0; ST +0/-0Warren Foegele, 5

. Another PK star of the Oilers. He went to the wrong man on a Vancouver rush, leading to the Canucks first Grade A shot of the game, 31 minutes into the match. A few mistakes in his own zone.

#37, GAS: ES +0/-2; ST +0/-1Sam Carrick, 7

. His best game as an Oiler. He played a part in Edmonton’s second goal, keeping alive the o-zone cycle. Threw two thumping hits on Zadorov in the second. His line had a great shift cycling the puck deep early in the third.

#39 GAS: ES +1/-0; ST +0/-0Connor Brown, 7

.  A key cog in Edmonton’s strong defence. Part of huge first period PK effort, earned himself a breakaway but failed to drain it. He kicked off the Virtuous Cycle on Edmonton’s second goal, rushing the puck into the Vancouver zone and making a solid pass. But a mental error in the third, a clearance of the puck that went out for a penalty. The coach had him out in the final minute to hold on to the win.

#28, GAS: ES +2/-0; ST +01/-0Mattias Janmark, 8.

One more solid game from one of Edmonton’s most under-rated players. He jumped up for a great wrap-around pass but Carrick could not get a handle on his pass. He won a PK battle to set up Brown’s breakaway. He allowed Hronek’s outside shot on their second goal. The coach had him out in the last minute and he made a key shotblock with on Millers with 13 seconds left.

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#13, GAS: ES +1/-1; ST +1/-0Evan Bouchard, 8.

He snapped home an outside shot through Hyman’s screen to score a Californian( named for Joe Pavelski and Brent Burns, who executed so many of these screened or tipped outside shot goals against the Oilers). His ripping slapper missed the net on the power play late in the second, but RNH was able to get the rebound and deposit it. His ill-timed icing led to the face-off where Vancouver got its second goal. He kept a clean sheet at even strength, not one major mistake on a Grade A shot against.

#02, GAS: ES +1/-0; ST +1/-0Mattias Ekholm, 7.

Just keeps churning out the good games. Some excellent PK clearances on the first. He kept the puck in leading up to Edmonton’s second goal. He screened Skinner on Vancouver’s second goal.

#14, GAS: ES +2/-1; ST +0/-0Darnell Nurse, 6.

He was heading off the ice before the puck left the zone, contributing to Mikheyev’s great chance early on. He won a key battle on the late first period kill. Solid all game, just a few glitches on defence.

#25, GAS: ES +0/-1; ST +0/-1Vincent Desharnais, 6.

A few struggles with the puck. His early turnover led to Ilya Mikheyev’s breakaway chance. But sound on defence, keeping a clean sheet, not one major mistake on a Grade A shot against.

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#73, GAS: ES +0/-0; ST +0/-1Cody Ceci, 7.

Solid defence all game. Part of a fine first period PK effort. He ripped an outside shot through a screen for Edmonton’s first goal, a perfectly executed Californian. He charged the net a moment later and almost scored.

#05, GAS: ES +1/-1; ST +0/-0Brett Kulak, 7

. A good game, another one in the playoffs for Kool Kulak. He almost beat Silovs 90 seconds in with a 5-alarm shot. He had a crucial shot block on Garland half-way through the third.

#27, GAS: ES +0/-0; ST +0/-0Stuart Skinner, 7

. Not a lot of action but was big when called upon. He stared down Ilya Mikheyev on an early breakaway chance and won the challenge, the Russian missing the net on his deke.  But then came the Canucks push-back. He stopped Lafferty’s break-in shot in the second, his first Grade A save of the game. Next, he stopped a dangerous tipped shot, followed up by a difficult Garland snipe off a low-high pass through many moving bodies, and a save off Di Giuseppe through a Nurse screen. He twarted Pius Suter’s dangerous slot shot in the third and came up huge on a 5-alarm blast from Elias Pettersson on his doorstep on Van’s third period power play. He got beat clean by Garland. There was a heavy screen on the second goal.

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