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Player grades: Edmonton Oilers dig another deep hole, can't climb their way out – Edmonton Journal

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Oilers 1, Rangers 4

Edmonton Oilers talked the talk about getting off to a better start in Madison Square Garden on Monday, but when it came time to walk the walk, that was another story entirely.

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For the 11th time in 12 games, the Oilers allowed the game’s first goal, this one on a dreadful mistake by their netminder. For the 7th time in 10 games, they allowed the game’s first TWO goals, the second coming on a 4-on-2 jail break early in the middle frame. From there the Oil pushed back a bit, even cutting the deficit to 2-1 for a time. But despite dominating the shot clock 14-5 in the third period, the Oilers were outscored 2-0 as the New York Rangers won going away, 4-1.

The Oilers didn’t help their cause with some loose defensive play, nor by beating a steady path to the penalty box. On the other side of the sheet they encountered a disciplined defensive squad that played a physical game (hits were 29-12 Rangers) and filled the shooting lanes (blocked shots were, get this, 22-3 Rangers). They defended Edmonton’s top stars in layers and with plenty of puck support, while attacking the soft underbelly of the visitors on the counter attack. Indeed, in a spell of not much more than 3 minutes of the middle frame, New York had 3 breakaways and a 3-on-1 against an utterly disorganized, and increasingly dispirited, crew of Oilers.

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By night’s end shots on net were 34-28 Edmonton, but yet again score effects ruled the game. Consider that the shot clock stood at 16-9 Rangers when the home side opened their lead to 2-0, after which they largely concentrated on taking care of business at the defensive end. Our preliminary count of Grade A shots had NYR with a slim 13-12 edge, but were we to count Grade A+++ looks it would have been less close, what with all the odd man rushes and unchallenged deflections from the slot. The home team benefited from a couple of good bounces, and had the stronger performance between the pipes as Alexandar Georgiev outduelled Mikko Koskinen.

Coach Dave Tippett singled out Koskinen’s costly error in the post game avail and professed that otherwise his team had done many good things, but the sad fact is the Oilers have lost the last 9 games that their head coach has been behind the bench with no apparent end in sight.

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Player grades

#2 Duncan Keith, 4. Oilers carried the play when he and Ceci were on the ice, but Keith found himself on the wrong side of the puck on the second Rangers goal when he was victimized by a weird bounce. The man he was trying to pinch on the play, Barclay Goodrow, got behind him, won the race up ice, and wound up scoring the game winner.

#5 Cody Ceci, 5. He was back but unable to cut out the key pass on the 2-0. Started the play on the lone Oilers goal with a good pass of his own.

#8 Kyle Turris, 6. Made a fine spinaround shot that went through Georgiev, landed on its edge and literally  curled away from the post. Did earn an assist on McLeod’s tally with a slick aerial pass in the offensive zone to spring Benson.

#10 Derek Ryan, 4. Had little impact on the game. 0 shot attempts or contributions to Grade A shots in 7½ minutes. Didn’t give up a whole lot, unlucky to be tagged with a dash-1 on the opening goal. Went a perfect 4/4=100% on the faceoff dot.

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#13 Jesse Puljujarvi, 5. Shafted early when his powerful one-timer beat Georgiev above the blocker but caught the shaft of his stick, knocking it right out of the stopper’s hand. 4 shots in all including a couple more dangerous ones. His bad line change in a 4v4 situation left a teammate on an island leading to a dangerous Rangers chance.

#14 Devin Shore, 4. Played 11 minutes, over 5 of them on the penalty kill. His miscommunication with Nurse resulted in a failed clearance that led directly to the killer 3-1 goal. Had nothing going on at evens with 0 shot attempts and 0 involvement in Grade A shots. Did muster 3 hits to lead the Oilers.

#16 Tyler Benson, 7. His best game as an NHLer. Benson was dangerous all game long on an effective bottom six line with McLeod and Turris, who combined to score Edmonton’s lone goal of the night. Benson was the key to that, sending a perfect backhand pass to McLeod on the lip of the crease for the tap-in. On the night Benson chipped in on 4 Grade A shots by the Oilers, had 0 problems at the other end of the sheet and ended the night 0-1-1, +1.

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#18 Zach Hyman, 4. Ran his goalless string to 9 games, of which the Oilers have lost every one. (He missed the same 3 games to a shoulder injury that Tippett spent on COVID protocol.) Over that span his boxcars of 0-3-3, -6 tell a bit of a sorry tale. He spent a whopping 5:36 on the penalty kill on this night, and had his struggles on that unit. Also was beaten by Ryan Strome’s centring pass on the opening goal.

#19 Mikko Koskinen, 2. The Oilers desperately needed their big stopper to stand tall in the early going but got precisely the opposite. First he lobbed a puck over the glass, putting his team shorthanded after just 15 seconds of play. Then he made a fatal blunder just after the 5-minute mark when he left his crease to field a slow-moving puck, but misjudged both how long it would take to reach the trapezoid where he could safely play it and how quickly Strome would be in position to challenge for it. The result was disaster, a gimme open netter for the Rangers that opened the scoring and put them ahead to stay. Koskinen made a few good saves thereafter, but leaked in the 3-1 goal when Chris Kreider’s deflection found a hole and dribbled in. Now has lost his last 6 starts after a promising 12-2 beginning — kind of like the Oilers’ season in microcosm — and has just an .866 save percentage in that span. 28 shots, 24 saves, .857 in this one.

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#20 Slater Koekkoek, 4. Got absolutely crushed by Ryan Lindgren in one of the hardest hits in any Oilers game all season. Otherwise OK in a third pairing role, logging 12:40 with 2 shots, 1 block, 1 hit. Took a penalty

#22 Tyson Barrie, 4. Had some OK moments offensively, leading the Oilers with 8 shot attempts. But had a couple of bad moments defensively, being on the wrong side of a couple of breakaways, one after an ugly turnover at his own blueline. Unlucky on the 4-1 which deflected in off his skate, but by then the outcome was no longer in doubt.

#25 Darnell Nurse, 4. Led the Oilers with 26:37 TOI, but just so-so on the night. Had some odd stats that suggest the Oilers carried the play on the perimeter but not the middle of the ice: shot attempts were 28-15 during his time at 5v5, but actual shots on goal were 13-14. That’s right, every Rangers attempt but 1 resulted in a shot on net, while fewer than half of Oilers attempts were on target. Natural Stat Trick  also recorded this odd split on his watch of scoring chances at 12-7 Oilers but high danger chances of just 1 for, 5 against. His toughest moment came on the penalty kill when he and Shore got in each other’s way trying to clear the puck, then Nurse was unable to prevent Kreider from tipping home the subsequent point shot.  Rang the crossbar with a wicked drive in garbage time.

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#29 Leon Draisaitl, 5. Got smoked by big Ryan Reaves in the first period, though to his credit he landed a pretty decent (though somehow uncredited) hit of his own on the same opponent later that same shift. Was bamboozled by heavy checking all game; on one sequence in the second period he busted his tail in the corner trying to beat one, two, eventually three Ranger defenders, and while he sawed them off for a good 15 seconds or more there were no happy endings of Leon or the Oilers coming away with the puck. Not a lot of magic in his giant blade on this night; his passes weren’t quite clicking until the third period when he first set up Foegele for an excellent shot, then made a fine play to steal the puck off Lindgren and feed McDavid for a one-timer that forced Georgiev’s best save of the game. Had a couple drives of his own but nothing doing. 13/18=72% on the dot with excellent shot shares, but no points to show for his night’s work.

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#37 Warren Foegele, 3. A couple of innocuous turnovers inside opposition territory both got turned into odd-man rushes and ultimately, New York goals. A couple of shots on net, but zero hits on a night the Oilers needed a little more pushback. Took a penalty in garbage time.

#56 Kailer Yamamoto, 3. 0 shots and about that much impact on the game. 0-0-0, -1, 2 PiM. Outworked by Mika Zibanejad in the neutral zone on one telling sequence, with the New York star stripping a slow-moving Yamamoto of the puck and turning it back the other way. Did challenge Jacob Trouba at the end of the second when the Rangers d-man tried to take some liberties with McDavid. Took a slashing penalty with 12 minutes left in the third which didn’t help the cause.

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#70 Colton Sceviour, 4. He and his line of Ryan and Shore made precrious little impression on this game and decisively lost the battle for bottom-six minutes to Benson-McLeod-Turris.

#71 Ryan McLeod, 6. Scored Edmonton’s lone goal by going to the **** net for the finishing touch on a pretty four-way passing play. His line had the better of play. But he took a tripping penalty early in the third and watched the third NYR goal from the sin bin.

#75 Evan Bouchard, 5. Not a major force in this one. Did make a couple of decent outlet passes and had 1 good shot on net. Made a better door than window on the Rangers powerplay goal, where Kreider got behind him for the unchallenged deflection.

#97 Connor McDavid, 6. A quiet first period, but came on in the second half of the game, ultimately generating a team-high 7 shots on net. Among them, a couple of doozies, one with a hard rush to the goal mouth from inside the zone, the other with a strong one-timer of a Draisaitl feed that forced a brilliant glove stop by Georgiev. But ultimately a pointless night for both the captain and his team.

Recently at the Cult of Hockey

STAPLES: Short of firing Tippett, how can Oilers turn things around?

LEAVINS: Some context for Oilers’ slide — 9 Things

McCURDY: Player grades from OT loss vs Islanders

STAPLES: Player grades from see-saw loss in Jersey

McCURDY: Review of Oilers games 21-30

LEAVINS: Player grades from 4-2 loss at St. Louis

Follow me on Twitter @BruceMcCurdy

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Montreal Canadiens place Alex Belzile on waivers, plus other injury updates – Habs Eyes on the Prize

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The Montreal Canadiens have placed forward Alex Belzile on waivers on Monday.

The forward will be assigned to the Laval Rocket should he clear waivers. The 31-year-old was pointless in 11 games this season with the Canadiens. He has four goals and seven assists in 16 AHL games this season.

The team also provided several injury updates, as the new Vice President of Communications Chantal Machabée briefed the media before head coach Dominique Ducharme answered questions.

Joel Edmundson is back from Montreal after being in Manitoba and away from the team. There is no timeline on his return, and the same goes with Carey Price.

Jake Allen will undergo an MRI, while Paul Byron and Tyler Toffoli are nearing a return.

Cayden Primeau will start against the Arizona Coyotes on Monday afternoon. Laurent Dauphin and Josh Anderson also draw back in the lineup. Michael Pezzetta will be a healthy scratch.

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Updates regarding the Canadiens' roster – NHL.com

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GLENDALE – The Canadiens announced the following roster moves on Monday morning.

SHOP: Caufield Blue Socks

Forwards Rafael Harvey-Pinard and Jesse Ylonen were assigned to the Laval Rocket.

Meanwhile, defenseman Gianni Fairbrother has joined the Rocket and returned to training, having completed his period of isolation required by the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol.

The Canadiens will face the Coyotes in Arizona on Monday, January 17.

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Novak Djokovic could be barred from French Open if unvaccinated – CBC.ca

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Novak Djokovic returned home Monday after being thwarted from defending his Australian Open title only to face a new predicament: He could be barred from the French Open this year, too, if he’s still not vaccinated against COVID-19.

A plane carrying the No. 1-ranked player touched down in his native Serbia, closing at least the first chapter in a dizzying drama that has resonance in the world of elite sports, Australia’s pandemic politics and the polarized debate over the coronavirus shots.

A handful of fans waving the Serbian flag greeted him at Belgrade’s airport. Djokovic has an almost iconic status in Serbia, and many there felt he was poorly treated by Australia.

But his troubles may not be over yet: He could be barred from the French Open this year, under a new law intended to exclude the unvaccinated from stadiums and other public places. Much could change between now and the start of the Grand Slam tournament in late May, but that raised the spectre the recent saga in Australia would be not just a blip but an ongoing challenge for the athlete, who is increasingly being held up as a hero by the anti-vaccine movement.

A member of the French Parliament, Christophe Castaner, said the new law will apply to anyone who wants to play in the French Open — a reversal of earlier plans to create a “bubble” around the tournament.

“To do your job, to come for pleasure or leisure, to practice a sport, it will be necessary to present a vaccine. This will be valid for people who live in France but also for foreigners who come to our country for vacation or for a major sports competition,” Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu told BFM television on Monday.

But some details of the law are still being hashed out, including how it will deal with people who have recently recovered from COVID-19, as Djokovic has. The question is how recent the infection must be to qualify for an exemption to vaccination rules. France’s sports ministry said Monday once the law is in place, there will be no exceptions until further notice.

WATCH | Djokovic deported from Australia after losing final appeal:

Novak Djokovic deported from Australia after losing final appeal

18 hours ago

Duration 2:01

Top-ranked tennis player Novak Djokovic has been deported from Australia after losing his final appeal to not have his visa revoked, meaning he could not compete in the Australian Open. Djokovic’s lack of COVID-19 vaccination has galvanized tennis fans, Australians and become a rallying cry for anti-vaxxers. 2:01

Djokovic is also the defending champion at Wimbledon, which begins in late June. But so far, England has allowed exemptions from various coronavirus regulations for visiting athletes, if they remain at their accommodation when not competing or training. The U.S. Tennis Association, which runs the U.S. Open, has said it will follow government rules on vaccination status.

It’s also not clear when Djokovic could head back to Australia. Deportation can lead to a three-year ban on returning to the country, although that can be waived, depending on the circumstances.

For now, a warm welcome awaits Djokovic, who has overwhelming support in his native Serbia where his closest family lives. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has accused the Australian government of “harassing” the top-ranked tennis star and urged him to return home.

Novak Djokovic plays a forehand during a practice session ahead of the 2022 Australian Open in Melbourne on Friday. A court upheld a decision by the immigration minister to cancel the 34-year-old Serb’s visa on public interest grounds. (Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Denied entry to Australia

“God bless you Novak,” read one of the banners held by the fans at the airport as he was whisked through the passport control and customs and then driven by his brother Djordje to his apartment in Belgrade.

The official Tanjug news agency reported that Djokovic’s mother, Dijana, said her son will remain in Belgrade in the coming days and won’t make statements for the media.

WATCH | Djokovic says his agent made error on Australia entry form:

Novak Djokovic blames human error for inaccurate travel declaration

5 days ago

Duration 1:52

Novak Djokovic says human error is to blame for an inaccurate travel declaration form that claimed the tennis champion hadn’t travelled for two weeks before arriving in Australia for an upcoming tournament in Melbourne. 1:52

Djokovic’s Australian saga began when he was granted an exemption to strict vaccination rules by two medical panels and the tournament organizer in order to play in the Australian Open because he had recently recovered from COVID-19. He received a visa to enter the country through an automated process. But upon arrival, border officials said the exemption was not valid and moved to deport him.

The initial news that the star had been granted the exemption sparked anger in Australia, where strict lockdowns in cities and curbs on international travel have been employed to try to control the spread of the coronavirus since the pandemic began.

More than 95 per cent of all top 100 men and women tennis players in their tours’ respective rankings are vaccinated. At least two other men – American Tennys Sandgren and Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert — skipped the Australian Open due to vaccine requirements.

In the end, Australian authorities revoked Djokovic’s visa, saying his presence could stir up anti-vaccine sentiment and kicking him out was necessary to keep Australians safe. He was deported Sunday, a day before the tournament got underway in Melbourne.

Djokovic has won nine titles there previously. He had hoped this year to secure his 21st Grand Slam singles trophy, breaking the record he shares with rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for the most in the history of men’s tennis. Federer is not playing while recovering from injury, but Nadal is competing.

WATCH | Canadians to watch at Australian Open:

Canadians to watch at the 2022 Australian Open

3 days ago

Duration 3:17

CBC Sports’ Vivek Jacob walks through the Canadian tennis stars you should be watching as they gear up to compete in the 2022 Australian Open 3:17

As the legal battle played out in Australia, Djokovic acknowledged he had attended an interview in Belgrade in December with journalists from L’Equipe newspaper after testing positive for the coronavirus. He later described this “an error” of judgment.

Asked if Djokovic would face any penalties for flouting his isolation while being infected when he returns to Serbia, Serbian officials said he would not because the country is not in a state of emergency.

Djokovic is a national hero in Serbia, whose president had called the court hearing in Australia “a farce with a lot of lies.”

“Novak, welcome home, you know that we all support you here,” said Snezana Jankovic, a Belgrade resident. “They can take away your visa, but they cannot take away your Serbian pride.”

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