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Edmonton Oilers deliver a statement performance in a 2-0 shutout of L.A.: Cult of Hockey Player Grade

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The Edmonton Oilers turned in a hard, grinding, effective effort against the rival L.A. Kings on the way to the club’s 1st shutout of the season.

The game’s 1st Star was Stuart Skinner, who absolutely sparkled with 43 saves. He was exceptional. At the other end, markers from Evander Kane and Connor McDavid (his 300th career goal) was all the Oilers needed.

The regulation win pulls Edmonton into 2nd place, one ahead of L.A. in the Pacific (the Kings with a game in hand), and just 2 points back of Vegas for the conference lead. The Golden Knights lost to San Jose 4-3 in OT, earning a single point.

Here is the tale of the tape…

Cult of Hockey Player Grades

STUART SKINNER. 10. The biggest game in Stuart Skinner’s young career and he nailed it. 43 stops for the club’s 1st shutout of the season. Skinner made a point-blank stop on Kaliyev early in the 1st. A fine right pad stuff on Byfield. A terrific glove save on Kempe who had split the D in the 2nd and darted in with a dangerous deke. Confidently managed a Byfield back-hand. Erased a turnover with a great save off Kupari. He finished off the 2nd by stoning Lizotte with his glove on a breakaway. Big 3rd period stop off Kempe’s stick on the PP. Needed to be sharp on a Byfield deflection in front. Slammed the door shut down the stretch including a terrific toe save on Gavrikov late. His 10 wins in March sets a franchise record. Named the game’s 1st Star. We do not hand out “transcendent” grades lightly at The Cult of Hockey. But the quality of Skinner’s work multiplied by the significance of the game in the standings adds up to a “10”. And if you remember back to the circumstances of last year…one assumes Skinner will not get farmed out to Bakersfield after this shutout.

CONNOR McDAVID. 7. Whistled for an early boarding call on Mikey Anderson but his mates killed it off. Anderson did not return. An uncharacteristic turnover in his own zone in the 1st led to a chance against. Set up Hyman for a 2nd Period one-timer. Then, a takeaway in his own zone on the PK…McDavid sprinting up the ice (beating 2 Kings along the way), a flurry of stickhandles and finally a sharp shot low stick to make it 2-0. It was his 61st of McDavid’s season, the 300th of his brilliant career. Slick feed from behind the net but Nugent-Hopkins could not finish the one-timer. 54% in the circle. The game ‘s 2nd star. The 1st player in NHL history to have five point streaks of 10 games or more in a season.

RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS. 7. Tough play at his own blueline to clear the zone on the 1st period PK. Sweet pass to Draisaitl for a PP one timer. Just missed cashing in on a rebound of a Bouchard shot in the 3rd. One-timer off a McDavid behind-the-net pass in the 3rd. Led the team in 5v5 CF at 22-13, 63%.

ZACH HYMAN. 6. Could not bury a one-timer in the 2nd off a McDavid feed. 5 shots. Played an honest, heavy game.

DARNELL NURSE. 8. Darnell Nurse’s finest defensive effort of the season. Repeatedly used his speed to win races and his size to win battles. Nurse stood up Kempe in the neutral zone early on. An excellent defensive play on a driving Kopitar in the 1st. Another fine effort against Arvidsson in the 2nd. And expertly headed off a Moore net drive a few shifts later. Ended the night with 3 shots, 2 hits, 2 blocks in 23:32. Flat out excellent, shift-in and shift-out, and the Kings’ best.

CODY CECI. 7. Nice setup for a dangerous Foegele chance in the 1st. Solid play on Byfield who was driving the Oilers net in the 2nd. Failed to get a puck deep at the O-line, allowing the Kings to run it back and get a shot against. A 3rd Period wraparound attempt. Solid. His game has improved noticeably over the last half dozen outings.

LEON DRAISAITL. 8. Smart stick on a 1st period PK. Neutral zone steal. Buried Doughty with a heavy check into the wall. Then put Gavrikov right on his pants with a thudding check. And to close out the period, Leon slung a no-look, spin-around backhand to Evander Kane in the slot who buried it for the 1-0. What a play! That was 29’s 70th helper of the year. Was stoned by a great pad on a Power Play one-timer in the 2nd. Sent a seeing-eye pass across the crease to a hard-charging Ekholm, to draw a late 2nd frame PP. A tidy pass across to Kane for a 3rd period opportunity. Led all Oilers in TOI at 23:45. Has really hit his stride.

EVANDER KANE. 8. Came out aggressive from the first shift, landing 7 (!) hits just in the first 20 minutes. His thump on Roy along the wall was particularly memorable. Took a slick back-hand feed from Draisaitl in the high slot and 1-timed it home high for the 1-0. Stopped on an Oilers 2-man break in the 2nd. Finished with 8 hits, 5 shots. Looked like he was on a mission. His goal proved to be the game winner. Played 20:25 and I thought he was the Oilers best Forward. That two excellent games back-to-back, now.

KAILER YAMAMOTO. 7. Gained the O-zone with speed then fed Draisaitl, earning an assist on the 1-0. Solid hit on Doughty in the 3rd. A highly effective 2:02 short-handed.

MATTIAS EKHOLM. 8. Blocked shot on a 1st Period PK. A 2nd Period stretch pass sprung Ryan and Kane on a clear break. Did not give an inch to Moore who would have had a chance in front. 2 hits, 3 blocks, 2 takeaways. Cleared the slot while flat on the ice, late. Just rock solid.

EVAN BOUCHARD. 7. An icing led to 3 Kings shots against after the ensuing D-zone faceoff. But it was one of very few off-moments for the young man tonight. Fired one off the post late in the 2nd on the PP. Could not cash in on an excellent 3rd Period shot. As physical as I have seen him play…ever. Credited with 4 hits.

NICK BJUGSTAD. 4. Dinged the post in the 1st after Doughty’s stick exploded beside his own net. Nabbed for a 3rd Period trip. Just 23 on faceoffs and crushed in shot shares 5v5 (9-15, 38%).

WARREN FOEGELE. 5. A good chance in the 1st off a Ceci pass. Ticked the post off a nice pass from Janmark. 2 shots.

MATTIAS JANMARK. 6. A wraparound attempt in the opening frame. Set up Foegele for a 2nd Period chance. His aggressive forecheck on the PK helped create the McDavid breakaway opportunity. No assist but the goa does not get scored without him.

BRETT KULAK. 6. Drew a 2nd Period PP. Took an interference call in the 2nd. High Dangers 4-1 with him on 5v5.

VINCENT DESHARNAIS. 6. Pretty iffy cross-check call in the 2nd. 2 hits, 2 blocks. High dangers 5v5 4-1.

DEREK RYAN. 5. Blocked shot on a 1st period PK. He and Kane teamed up with a net drive in the 2nd. 67% on draws.

KLIM KOSTIN. 5. Wraparound attempt in the 2nd, then buried Doughty with a heavy check.

PHILIP BROBERG. 5. Played just 4:05. Took shifts on both sides. 2 shots and a block.

Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Evander Kane are only the 2nd trio of teammates to score their 300th career goals in the same season. Last time, it was Clarke, Barber and MacLeish for the Flyers in 1981.

The Oilers are now 44-23-9, 97 points. They host Anaheim Saturday.

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Tiger Woods had a tough opening round at The 152nd Open Championship

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Tiger Woods encountered difficulties during the opening round of The 152nd Open Championship at Royal Troon, finishing with an 8-over-par 79. Despite a promising beginning, including a birdie on the third hole, Woods struggled to find consistency throughout the round. His iron play and putting were particularly problematic, contributing to a series of bogeys and double bogeys.

Woods’ performance saw him slightly above average off the tee and around the green. However, he lost over two strokes to the field in both approach play and putting, ranking near the bottom in these categories. This marks a significant challenge for the 15-time major champion, especially considering the competitive field and the demanding conditions at Royal Troon.

Reflecting on his round, Woods admitted, “I didn’t do a lot of things right today. I didn’t hit my irons very close, and I didn’t give myself a whole lot of looks today. I need to shoot something in the mid-60s tomorrow to get something going on the weekend.” He emphasized the need for a strong performance on Friday to make the cut and remain in contention.

Woods, 48, has shown determination and resilience, competing in all four majors this year for the first time since his serious car accident in 2021. Despite physical limitations, he believes he can still contend for major titles under the right conditions. His performance on Thursday puts him in a challenging position, requiring a significant turnaround in the second round to stay in the tournament.

As Woods prepares for Friday’s round, his focus remains on improving his game and making the cut. Fans and analysts alike will be watching to see if he can achieve the remarkable recovery needed to advance and compete over the weekend. Woods’ journey at The 152nd Open Championship continues to be a testament to his enduring skill and competitive spirit.

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NBA Returns to Montreal with Raptors vs. Wizards Pre-Season Game

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Montreal, QC – The NBA is set to make an exciting return to Montreal. The league announced on Thursday that the Toronto Raptors will face off against the Washington Wizards at the Bell Centre on October 6, marking the 10th edition of the NBA Canada Series.

This annual series has featured 15 teams playing 18 pre-season games across six Canadian cities. Notably, this will be the eighth NBA Canada Series game in Montreal, the highest for any city outside the Raptors’ usual home in Toronto.

Last year, Montreal fans witnessed the Detroit Pistons take on the Oklahoma City Thunder, featuring Canadians Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Luguentz Dort. The Raptors’ previous game in Montreal was in 2022.

This year’s game will be particularly special as it will showcase several Canadian players. Montreal natives Chris Boucher and Quincy Guerrier are both on the Raptors’ training camp roster. Additionally, Kelly Olynyk and RJ Barrett, who are set to represent Canada at the upcoming Summer Olympics, are also expected to play for the Raptors.

The Wizards bring their own Canadian connection with Kyshawn George, selected in this year’s NBA Draft. George, born in Switzerland, is the son of Montreal’s Deon George, a former member of Canada’s men’s basketball team.

The October 6 game will cap off the Raptors’ Montreal-based training camp, promising an exciting end to their preparations.

For more updates and coverage on the NBA Canada Series, visit Canada News Media

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Fafa Picault Leads Vancouver Whitecaps to Victory Over Sporting Kansas City

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Vancouver, BCFafa Picault emerged as the hero off the bench, scoring in the second half to secure a 2-1 victory for the Vancouver Whitecaps against Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday.

The Whitecaps (11-7-5) dominated the first half, with two goals being disallowed due to offside calls. Vancouver’s breakthrough came in the 34th minute when Kansas City defender Robert Valoder accidentally scored an own goal, giving the ‘Caps a 1-0 lead.

Sporting Kansas City (6-14-5) showed more vigor in the second half, equalizing in the 69th minute with a goal from Willy Agada. However, Picault’s decisive goal in the 76th minute ensured the Whitecaps extended their unbeaten streak in Major League Soccer (MLS) to five games (4-0-1).

Yohei Takaoka delivered an outstanding performance with 16 saves for Vancouver, while Tim Melia made 12 stops for Kansas City, whose three-game winning streak came to an end.

First Half Dominance

The Whitecaps were aggressive from the start, creating several early scoring opportunities. Brian White nearly scored with a header in the seventh minute, but Valoder cleared it off the goal line.

Ali Ahmed had a notable moment in the 27th minute, maneuvering past defenders to set up White for a goal that was disallowed due to offside. The Whitecaps’ pressure paid off in the 34th minute when Valoder deflected the ball into his own net, attempting to intercept a pass from Ryan Gauld to White.

Ahmed seemed poised to increase Vancouver’s lead eight minutes later, but his goal was also ruled offside. Despite these setbacks, Vancouver outshot Kansas City 9-2 in the first half.

Kansas City’s Resurgence

Sporting Kansas City made three substitutions at halftime, revitalizing their performance. Stefan Afrifa, substituting for Alenis Vargas, struck the crossbar in the 63rd minute, and Daniel Salloi’s follow-up shot was expertly saved by Takaoka.

Kansas City equalized six minutes later when Agada capitalized on a rebound after Takaoka’s save, slotting the ball into an open net.

Picault’s Winning Goal

The Whitecaps regained the lead in the 76th minute through Picault’s sixth goal of the season. Sebastian Berhalter, who replaced Ryan Raposo in the 67th minute, delivered a perfect cross to Picault, who headed it past Melia to make it 2-1.

Kansas City had a chance to level the score in injury time, but Erik Thommy’s free kick went over the bar following a foul by Mathias Laborda.

The victory solidifies the Whitecaps’ position as a formidable team in the MLS, with Picault’s performance highlighting their depth and resilience.

Stay tuned for more updates and coverage on the Vancouver Whitecaps at Canada News Media.

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