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Player grades: Edmonton Oilers big guns McDavid, Draisaitl and Puljujarvi shoot down Winnipeg Jets – Edmonton Journal

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Huge win for the Edmonton Oilers in a hard-fought battle. Edmonton slowly tightened the defensive screws against the Winnipeg Jets and choked out a win, 3-2.

In winning, the Oilers did what they have failed to so often this year, which is shut down an opposing team once Edmonton has the lead in the third. But Edmonton allowed just one Grade A chance for the Jets in the final 15 minutes.

Edmonton limited the Jets to just eight Grade A chances, while getting 13 of their own (running count).

Connor McDavid, 8. He made major contributions to Grade A chances, eight of them on the power play. Also had yet another solid defensive game, the kind that should propel him to the Hart Trophy this year. Deft pass to Puljujarvi on the first goal, as he sent the big Finn in one a breakaway. In the second, he charged up ice on the power play, put it on net, with RNH almost drilling in the rebound. His fast-as-a-falcon read and pass to RNH in the low slot kicked off the Draisaitl power play scoring sequence late in the second. He launched a rifle shot one-timer in the third, then set up Draisaitl for a second rifle shot off the post.

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Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 7. He and Jujhar Khaira allowed a cross-seam one-timer to Mathieu Perreault on the penalty kill in the first, but Mike Smith made the save. One Jets power play later he allowed another cross-seam, and this time Mark Scheifele scored. He made a sharp defensive block to end a threatening Jets 3-on-2 early in the second. Fantastic feed to set up Khaira on the PK in the crease. Then he got a quick one-timer of his own on the power play, with Draisaitl hammering home the rebound. He took a smart penalty to start the third, hooking Adam Lowery and stopping him from scoring on a short-handed breakaway.

Jesse Puljujarvi, 7. A good game, another one. He’s looking like the real deal, a true Top 6 NHL winger. Snapped home the game’s first goal, looking like the sniper that McDavid needs on the top line. Four goals in six games on the top line adds to that notion. He followed up with hustle defensive zone play, thwarting a scoring chance shot with a stick check.

Leon Draisaitl, 8. He was the best Oiler on the ice. He came out ready to play, blasting a Jets attacker into the boards on his first shift.  One shift later he powered up the ice like the Great Bull of Heaven and sniped a beauty goal. Kept up his hustle and was rewarded with a happy rebound on the power play late in the second, which he roofed, putting it top shelf where momma keeps the cookies. Almost got his third of the game when he ripped a one-timer off the post early in the third. He made a stretch pass in the third that led to a dangerous Oilers chance.

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Tyler Ennis, 6. Fine cross-ice chip shot pass to send in Draisaitl on the second Oilers goal of the game. He got wiped out by a nasty but completely legal Neal Pionk hip check in the first. But he and Gaetan Haas got mixed up and no one covered Neal Pionk’s point blast, Winnipeg’s second goal. I blamed Ennis more than Haas on that one.

Kailer Yamamoto, 7. After a slump, the old Yamamoto is back. All kinds of good things happened when he was on the ice. He had a smash-mouth clearance on the PK in the first, bashing a Jet into the boards, puck protecting then clearing the puck. He torpedoed his way in on the forecheck to win the puck on the penalty kill early in the third and almost scored on a backhander.

Dominik Kahun, 5. Hustling hard, he drew a tripping penalty in the second. Almost tipped in a goal off a Yamamoto feed and Draisaitl stretch late in the third.

Jujhar Khaira, 5. Did some good work on the PK. Almost scored on a shortie crease shot in the second. He failed to execute a key clearance late in the third.

Josh Archibald, 5. Hustled hard, as always, but had little impact on the game, either for good or for ill.

Alex Chiasson, 5. He doesn’t hurt you out there, though he also doesn’t make huge positive waves most games. A small play, but the kind a team needs when he smartly and effectively covered for a failed Evan Bouchard pinch in the first.

Gaetan Haas, 4. He skated hard but did not always have great results. His timing looked off a bit. He made a sharp spin move in his own zone early in the first period to advance the puck out. Was part of the problem on Winnipeg’s second goal, as he and Tyler Ennis failed to cover off Pionk’s point shot.

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Kyle Turris, 4. Quiet game in just 7:39 of ice time.

Adam Larsson, 7. He played some heavy hockey, and also effective hockey. Many fans were worried when he and fellow iffy puck-mover Kris Russell were teamed up for the game, and sure enough on their first shift they had trouble advancing the puck. Winnipeg’s first goal was on him somewhat as he both screened Mike Smith and the puck deflected in off his skate. But Larsson and Russell got strong as the game went on, shutting down fast Jets. He levelled Scheifele with a hit late in the game. He followed up a moment later drilling Blake Wheeler to the ice. He led the Oilers with five hits.

Kris Russell, 6. More good than bad. Shut up his many critics for a moment with a sharp outlet pass to kick off the Draisaitl scoring sequence in the first. He took an over-aggressive boarding penalty in the second. He got that one back when he was hauled down late in the second. He made a showtime Magic Johnson-to-James Worthy alley oop pass to send in Yamamoto on a break in the third, but Yamamoto fanned on the shot. Coach Tippett trusted him to stop the Jets on numerous shifts late in the game and Russell got the job done.

Tyson Barrie, 6. He screened goalie Mike Smith on the second Winnipeg goal, Neal Pionk’s high slot blast. But munched the heavy minutes and munched them generally fine.

Darnell Nurse, 6. A steady and effective one for Nurse. A few iffy moment on defence kept his mark from being higher, but those moments were the exception not the rule.

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Evan Bouchard, 5. A quiet game. He made a solid defensive stop on Mason Appleton in the third, winning the puck after a hard battle and helping to advance it out. He failed to clear the puck out of the Oilers zone late in the third, leading to a scary moment with Pionk teeing up a shot.

Slater Koekkoek, 5. He allowed a dangerous pass into the slot on the PK early in the third, with Winnipeg’s Perreault almost scoring. Other than that, had a quiet game as well, which is good for a third-pairing d-man.

Mike Smith, 8. He made a swell clearance to start off the sequence of joy culminating in Edmonton’s first goal. He also saved the first few dangerous shots on net, a nice change from Monday night’s game when he let the only four Grade A shots he faced. He made a stupendous save off a point blank Perreault shot on a Winnipeg power play early in the third. That was his best moment in the game, and a crucial one. Looking super solid in the net just now.

At the Cult of Hockey

STAPLES: If you want to push an Edmonton Oilers forward for the Selke Trophy, Connor McDavid is your man, not Leon Draisaitl

STAPLES: The one big reason the Oilers haven’t won more this year

McCURDY: Devon Shore on waivers

McCURDY: Player grades — Oilers score 5 on Vezina Trophy winner but still find a way to lose

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Bergevin: 'It was the best decision to make' – NHL.com

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BROSSARD – General manager Marc Bergevin clarified the reasons why Stéphane Waite was relieved of his duties as the Canadiens’ goaltending coach on Tuesday night.

Waite had been working alongside Carey Price since the 2013 campaign. It was under his mentorship that Price won the Vezina Trophy, Hart Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award after his standout 2014-15 season. The former fifth-overall selection in 2005 posted a 44-16-6 record, along with a 1.96 goals-against average, a .933 save percentage and nine shutouts.

Nevertheless, Price has struggled this season, compiling a 6-4-3 record, 2.96 goals-against average and a .893 save percentage in 13 outings.

A change was needed, according to Bergevin.

“It’s not an easy decision. I made the change at this point because I wanted to be 100 percent sure. Firstly, I’d like to thank Stéphane for his service to the organization. It wasn’t an easy decision, but it was very important,” mentioned Bergevin, during Wednesday’s press conference at the Bell Sports Complex. “I gave this decision a lot of thought. It isn’t based on this season only. I’ve also seen a pattern over the last few years. As the general manager, my responsibility is to bring the players here. My responsibility is also to make the best tools available to our players so they can have success. I think it was the best decision to make. We’re bringing in someone with a lot of experience and credibility. It wasn’t a change just to make a change.”

Video: Bergevin on the new goaltending coach

Bergevin told Waite the news during the second intermission of the game against the Ottawa Senators so it wouldn’t be a distraction for the team.

During Wednesday’s Zoom call with reporters, he explained the process behind the decision and confirmed that Price didn’t play a role in Waite’s dismissal.

The Habs’ starter actually found out about the move like the rest of his teammates following the 3-1 victory.

“As a general manager, the day that I decide to consult a player to find out what I should do is the day that this won’t work anymore. I made a decision based on the tools I need to provide to Carey and Jake. I’m never going to consult my players,” explained Bergevin. “Carey learned of the move after the game. I never communicated with Carey to ask his opinion. The day that I start operating that way, I won’t be the good guy anymore. That’s my role as the general manager of the Montreal Canadiens.”

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: Merci pour ton travail acharn��, ton mentorat et tes conseils au cours des huit derni��res ann��es, St��phane.Thank you for your hard work, mentorship and guidance over the last eight years, St��phane. pic.twitter.com/4fdjhQJjGG

A man of few words, Price’s reaction wasn’t shocking at all. He took the information in stride and supported the switch.

“It was a typical reaction from Carey. He told me that he understood. He’s a proud athlete. He wants to perform at the top of his game. He knows that he has to improve and fix some things,” stressed Bergevin. “He understands that it was my decision and he supports it. It’s nothing against Stéphane. We’ll see what happens.”

Why Burke?

Bergevin also revealed why Sean Burke is taking the reigns from Waite and assuming the role of director of goaltending.

Burke has been a professional scout for the Canadiens since 2016. Before joining the organization, the 54-year-old served as the Coyotes’ goaltending coach from 2009 to 2015.

Along with his coaching experience, the former second-round selection of New Jersey played 820 regular season games for the Devils, Hartford Whalers, Carolina Hurricanes, Vancouver Canucks, Philadelphia Flyers, Florida Panthers, Coyotes, Tampa Bay Lightning and the Los Angeles Kings.

It’s safe to say that Burke has quite a resume.

“Sean did very good work in Arizona. He has experience and he played the position. He’s capable of putting himself in a goaltender’s shoes. He knows what it’s like to have ups and downs. I based my decision on that,” affirmed Bergevin. “There’s definitely a mental aspect to goaltending. I think that Sean, with his goaltending experience, has been through a lot. He did good work in Arizona with Mike Smith, Devan Dubnyk and Ilya Bryzgalov. He has first-hand knowledge and expertise.”

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: The Canadiens have relieved St��phane Waite of his duties and have appointed Sean Burke as director of goaltending.https://t.co/hOXX0Jx5rK

The Canadiens’ GM gave Price a vote of confidence as well.

“I still believe that Carey is an excellent goaltender. He’s one of the best in the NHL,” concluded Bergevin. “He needs help. I think an experienced guy like Sean will do that.”

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Report: Raptors' Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, and three more players ruled out in Wednesday's rescheduled game vs. Pistons – NBA CA

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7h ago


Toronto Raptors

The Raptors have been cleared to return to the floor and face the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday – a game that was originally slated for Tuesday and tentatively postponed pending additional test results.

With multiple days of no new cases, the team was able to step on the floor on Tuesday to prepare for Wednesday.

“It’s been a tough couple of days,” general manager Bobby Webster said. “To get to here and be able to practice, we had to clear a number of hurdles.”

However, the team will be severely shorthanded, as they have five players ruled out due to health and safety protocols, including starters Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby. Malachi Flynn and Patrick McCaw are also out.

The five players will be out against the Pistons along with head coach Nick Nurse, who entered the protocols with five other members of his staff last week.

The team hasn’t played a game since Friday when they defeated the Houston Rockets while being led by assistant coach Sergio Scariolo, behind Kyle Lowry‘s triple-double.

The Raptors will look forward to taking care of business against the Pistons before hosting the Celtics 24 hours later in the team’s final games before the All-Star break.

Given the short turnaround between these next two games, it seems unlikely that the five players ruled out will be able to suit up against Boston.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.​

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Tuesday night’s win showcased how good Jesperi Kotkaniemi can be – Habs Eyes on the Prize

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When you’re in the middle of a five-game losing streak, just fired the head coach and associate coach (then, oddly, the goaltending coach), you need a win of any kind to right a careening ship. It looked like the Montreal Canadiens might win on Saturday, but a poor overtime decision washed that away. On Tuesday Montreal got the victory. It wasn’t pretty, but it’s a win.

It was dominant in terms of possession metrics, where Montreal doubled up Ottawa’s scoring chances at five-on-five en route to the 3-1 victory. What stood out the most is that even with a lead, or when the Senators drew back within a goal, the Canadiens never strayed for their new playing style.

Montreal stayed aggressive on pucks, hounding defenders with a relentless forecheck that Ottawa had no answers for. Every time a Hab was on the puck, they were supported by at least one other red sweater, giving the attack ample chances to start out of the defensive zone.

Anyone who has followed the AHL team even in passing should recognize Ducharme’s offensive attack as very similar to that of Joël Bouchard’s in Laval. Jesperi Kotkaniemi spent just a dozen games with Bouchard and thrived, so to see his confidence growing inside a similar system isn’t surprising.

Kotkaniemi finished the night with one assist, a 72% Corsi-for percentage, and saw 10 scoring chances, while allowing just two against in his minutes. He looked easily the best he has all year, and if he’s already adapted to the new system under Ducharme, it’s not hard to believe he’s going to continue to get better. It’s no secret that Kotkaniemi sometimes struggled to adjust to Claude Julien’s defence-first mentality, showing brief glimpses of what his potential can be.

With a few games like this under his belt in the last two weeks, and a crucial swing in Western Canada coming up, the time is right for a Kotkaniemi breakout. He battled hard against a Senators team that doesn’t break against Montreal and came out on top. With more games like the one on Tuesday, he is going to be knocking on the door for a much larger role soon.

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