Player grades: Oilers clinch home ice with a point but let another slip away to Coyotes

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Coyotes 3, Oilers 2 (OT)

It was a “trap game” for the Edmonton Oilers, and that’s how it turned out. In a contest squashed between a pair of major divisional rivals, the Oil brought their B game against a group of young, hungry Coyotes from Arizona. The visitors never trailed and ultimately won the day, 3-2 in overtime.

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Despite the absence of Connor McDavid who missed his second straight game with a minor injury, the Oilers did carry the play for long stretches, ultimately outshooting Arizona 39-27. However, by our analysis at the Cult of Hockey, it was the Coyotes who generated the more dangerous looks, including a 17-13 advantage in Grade A Shots and 7-6 in 5-alarm chances.

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Player grades

Cult of Hockey game grades player grades

#2 Evan Bouchard, 3. Struggled to move the puck crisply, especially behind his own blueline. A bad breakout pass got turned around quickly, resulting in a 3-on-2 the other way and ultimately, the first Coyotes goal. Took a puck over glass penalty. Had a terrible shift in the third where he twice coughed up the puck in his own end, then a third time in Arizona’s. Contributions to Grade A Shots (GAS): Even Strength +2/-6; Special Teams +0/-1.

#10 Derek Ryan, 6. Edmonton’s fourth line was not the problem, controlling possession for the most part. That started right from the puck drop, where Ryan posted an outstanding 8/9=89%. Drew the one and only Arizona penalty. 2 shots on net in 9:20 of ice time. GAS: ES +1/-1; ST 0.

#13 Mattias Janmark, 5. Oilers owned a 6-1 advantage on the shot clock during his 8 minutes at evens. Also chipped in 90 seconds of pristine penalty killing. Made a couple of nice rushers with the puck, though no dangerous shots resulted.  GAS: +0/-1; ST 0.

#14 Mattias Ekholm, 4. Tough night for the defender, who posted a rare -2. Among those beaten on the first Coyotes goal, also in frame on the game winner. His best moment may have come when he mashed Maccelli within seconds of Holloway getting drilled. Two can play that game, was the clear message. GAS: +2/-6; ST 0. 

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#18 Zach Hyman, 6. Solid effort but nothing to show for it. 7 shot attempts, 3 on goal, and a few won battles in his usual fashion. Rang iron with a strong one-timer off a Draisaitl feed. GAS: ES +4/-0; ST 0.


#19 Adam Henrique, 4. Had some chances early and managed to stuff home the 1-1 goal from the doorstep. But got caught on the wrong side of the puck minutes later, resulting in a 150-foot 3-on-2 the other way and ultimately, the 2-1 goal. Some weak play in the neutral zone. Soft coverage on Matias Maccelli’s overtime winner. 6 shots attempts, 3 on goal, and 7/11=64% on the dot in 18 minutes. GAS: ES +4/-4; ST 0.

#25 Darnell Nurse, 5. Led the Oilers with 22:50 in ice time. The squad controlled play during his 5v5 time, outshooting the ‘yotes 16-9 and outscoring them 2-1. Among those beaten on the 2-1, but got that back by scoring the 2-2 himself on a point shot through traffic. His 10th of the season, joining Bouchard and Ekholm on the only NHL squad with 3 d-men in double digits. Fired a heavy shot on net after joining the rush to take a Draisaitl feed. Beaten on a pair of great chances in the first shift of OT, but Pickard made a pair of fine stops. 3 shots, 2 hits. GAS: ES +1/-3; ST 0.

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#27 Brett Kulak, 5. Oilers controlled play for the most part during his 16½ minutes. Kulak himself fired 4 shots on net, including a labelled slapshot off the rush that forced one of Karel Vejmelka’s best stops. But was unable to contain a bouncing puck in front of Edmonton’s net on the 2-1. Completely abandoned the net front, and the danger man, on another chaotic sequence. Held his own in nearly 2 minutes on the PK, subbing in on the unit for the absent Cody Ceci. GAS: ES +1/-2; ST 0.

#28 Connor Brown, 5. Solid 2-way game on a dependable fourth line. 2 shots, 1 takeaway. GAS: ES +1/-1; ST 0.

#29 Leon Draisaitl, 6. Oilers dominated during his 19 even strength minutes, holding a 17-4 edge on the shot clock in that time. Made a number of dangerous passes, 4 of which resulted in Grade A shots and several others which could have but didn’t. Not much of a threat to shoot himself though, notably in overtime when he had a partial breakaway but instead telegraphed a pass the whole way and then failed to connect with Nurse, wasting the opportunity. Took a couple of hard hits, getting overpowered by big Michael Kesselring on one such. Dominant on the dot with 13/18=72%, though was tossed by the linesmen on numerous occasions including the centre ice faceoff in overtime.  GAS: ES +4/-1; ST +0/-1.

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#30 Calvin Pickard, 6. Saw a lot of quality shots and saved his mates’ bacon on several occasions.  A bit of an ugly rebound on the 1-0. Robbed Logan Cooley’s shorthanded bid from the doorstep. Took a Mike Kesselring high stick right in the mask after the whistle but somehow the men in stripes all missed it. Got his revenge by making a fine stop off the same player after an excellent Coyotes cycle. Made a pair of brilliant saves off Nick Schmaltz on the first shift in overtime, but on the second was beaten from distance by Maccelli. 27 shots, 24 saves, .889 save percentage.

#37 Warren Foegele, 5. A bit of an uneven game. Won a key battle inside his own blueline to finally clear the zone after extended pressure. Turned the puck over along the ozone boards leading to the jail break that produced the 2-1. Whiffed on his best scoring chance. Earned the primary assist on the 2-2, his 38th point of the season to extend a career high. Coughed up the puck behind his own goal line in the last minute of regulation leading to a dangerous shot. GAS: ES +4/-2; ST 0.

#51 Troy Stecher, 6. Played a low-key solid game paired with Nurse, the club recording excellent shot shares during his 18 even-strength minutes. On for both Edmonton goals, none of Arizona’s. Earned a secondary assist on Henrique’s goal. After 5 games as an Oiler, his boxcars are a tidy 0-2-2, +4. GAS: ES +1/-0; ST 0.

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#55 Dylan Holloway, 5. Played another energetic game. Lost his focus on the backcheck on the 1-0, seemingly puckwatching rather than picking up the danger man, who scored on the play. Minutes later left himself exposed and took a heavy hit which glanced off his shoulder before making significant head contact. But he kept on plugging and ultimately landed 6 hits of his own in 11½ minutes of ice time. GAS: ES +1/-1; ST 0.

#71 Ryan McLeod, 4. Quiet game with 0 shots, -1. Made a nice play to set up Ekholm for a shot that missed the target. GAS: ES +1/-0; ST +0/-1.

#73 Vincent Desharnais, 6. Puck was mostly going north on his watch, with Oilers holding a 9-3 edge in shots during his 15½ even-strength minutes. As usual, his best sequence came on the PK, when he made a painful shot block, recovered the puck on the continuation and made a smart, controlled pass to a mate for the clear before limping to the bench. GAS: ES +3/-2; ST +0/-1.

#90 Corey Perry, 5. Not a lot of impact in this one. 1 shot, 1 hit in 13 minutes. GAS: ES +1/-1; ST 0. 

#91 Evander Kane, 7. The best of the Oilers on the night. Continued to shoot in bad luck, ringing the post and crossbar with consecutive shots about a second apart. Turned playmaker on both Oilers goals, earning a primary assist with a sharp pass to Henrique on the 1-1 and a secondary with an early pass and more impactful goalie screen on the 2-2. A failed clearing pass led to a dangerous Arizona chance in the late going. 8 shot attempts, 7 hits and a going concern all night. GAS: ES +5/-1; ST 0.

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#93 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 6. Marked his 31st birthday with a high-event game, much of it at the good end of the ice where he led the team with 6 shots and 9 attempts. Had  a dazzling sequence where he won a key puck battle in his own end to spring the rush, joined it late to nearly slam home a rebound, then hustled back to disrupt the Arizona counter attack before it reached centre. Did some excellent work on the PK. Credited with 3 of Edmonton’s 9 takeaways. Got burned for 2 great Arizona chances in overtime, but then made a fine play on the continuation to send Draisaitl away on an odd-man rush that could have won it. GAS: ES +4/-2; ST +0/-1.

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