Connect with us

Sports

Player grades: Kailer Yamamoto fires the last shot as Oilers top Blues in barnburner – Edmonton Journal

Published

 on


Article content

Oilers 5, Blues 4

Edmonton Oilers’ topsy-turvy road trip took another turn on Sunday night, this one for the better. In a wild back-and-forth battle with St. Louis Blues, the Oilers blew a 2-goal lead in the third period but came out on top when Kailer Yamamoto scored to break a 4-4 tie with just 28 seconds left in regulation time.

Advertisement

Article content

It’s been a weird trip that has seen the Oil drop a pair of games they were strongly favoured to win in Detroit and Buffalo, but battle through a fair bit of adversity to beat two top-level opponents in Boston and now St. Louis.

One would never know it by the score, but netminder Mikko Koskinen played a massive part in the win, making a number of ten-bell saves as the Blues peppered him with rubber both at even strength and on their #2 ranked powerplay which was highly effective in 5 opportunities. The Blues held the edge in play, producing a 39-32 count on the shot clock, a 19-8 edge in High Danger Scoring Chances, and a 19-15 advantage by our own (preliminary) count of Grade A shots here at the Cult of Hockey .

Player grades

#2 Duncan Keith, 4. Oilers defenders were under the gun all night, and the Keith-Ceci pairing were no exception with some difficult moments at both even strength and on the penalty kill. Koskinen was the only reason they weren’t scorched for more than just the one goal against (the 2-2). Keith was victimized on 4 Grade A looks at even strength and 5 more on the PK. Did make a couple of fine passes, including one that set up 97-29-13 for a pair of good chances early in the third.

Advertisement

Article content

#5 Cody Ceci, 5. See Keith comment above. He did pick up an assist with a good stretch pass on McDavid’s buzzer beater at the end of the first.

#6 Kris Russell, 5. Made a couple of good defensive stops and a gutsy shot block, but was scorched by a cross-crease pass right through his lane on the 4-3.

#8 Kyle Turris, 6. Earned a sharp assist with a good keep-in and pass to Foegele in the build-up to McLeod’s tally. Involved in a couple of other good looks by the Oil. Was, however, beaten in the defensive slot on the 4-4.

#10 Derek Ryan, 5. Logged just 5:38 at even strength. Played a big role on the penalty kill (3:32 to lead all forwards), even as he too was bailed out by his goaltender more than once. His major contribution was an excellent 9/11=82% on the faceoff dot including 3/4=75% on the PK.

Advertisement

Article content

#13 Jesse Puljujarvi, 5. Created his usual mayhem around the puck and mustered a couple of decent shots on net. Not his finest hour handling the puck cleanly. Made what could have been a critical error covering the slot on Ryan O’Reilly’s great chance with a minute to play, but Koskinen had his team’s back once again.

#16 Tyler Benson, 5. Logged just 4:25 on a lightly-used fourth line, but that was enough time to lead the Oilers with 3 hits. Played with energy and enthusiasm.

#18 Zach Hyman, 7. A strange game where the puck was bouncing on him a lot, with a couple of scoring chances lost in the process. Didn’t muster a single shot on net, but was instrumental in the first 2 Oilers goals, earning assists on both. Made a fine rush and centring pass to McDavid on the 1-1 at the very end of the first, then provided an effective screen on Draisaitl’s powerplay tally. Interecpted a puck and fed Puljujarvi for another dangerous look. His line spent a lot of time in its own end, but the problems weren’t occurring on Hyman’s side of the ice. Played a whopping 22:21 including significant time on both special teams, and contributed to a brilliant defensive shift deep in St. Louis territory as the Oilers worked the clock after Yamamoto’s game winner.

Advertisement

Article content

#19 Mikko Koskinen, 8. He was the only reason the Oilers were in the game at 1-1 after the first period, turning aside 8 of 9 Grade A shots. His finest moment(s) came with a rapid sequence of 3 exceptional saves off Brandon Saad at the edge of the crease, getting a pad down to seal off the initial deflection, stretching out to get a toe on the first rebound, then a near-miraculous paddle stop on the follow-up, followed by a superb job to control the puck in the blue paint thereafter. More of the same in the second, when the Blues again pelted him with 8 Grade A shots of which only 1 got through. Less busy in the 3rd, but had zero chance on either of the 2 that beat him. Came up ginormous with a minute to play when he stoned O’Reilly from point blank range to keep the score tied and set the stage for the even-later dramatics. 39 shots, 35 saves, and a truly non-representative .897 save percentage. Koskinen won’t even get credited with a quality start but he sure as heck delivered one.

Advertisement

Article content

#22 Tyson Barrie, 4. Had a complete clean sheet on the event summary, not so much as an official shot attempt (though we at CoH rated him for one jam shot after a McLeod wraparound attempt). Lost a key battle when the Blues got a Grade A+ chance just 7 seconds after they’d tied the game 2-2, but Koskinen delivered a massive stop.

#25 Darnell Nurse, 4. Among the defensive culprits on 2 Blues goals, beaten by key passes on both the 1-0 and the 4-4. Did manage a secondary assist on the game-winner.

#29 Leon Draisaitl, 9. Another outstanding game in all facets. His line with RNH and Yamamoto was Edmonton’s best both by eye and on paper, producing outstanding shot shares on a night their mates were largely in chase mode. (Oilers outshot the Blues 13-6 during Draisaitl’s 18 minutes at even strength, while by our count he contributed to 9 Grade A shots by the Oilers at even strength, just 1 against.) Scored 1-2-3 to add to his league lead in both goals and points. Pounded home another one-timer on the powerplay to break a 1-1 tie early in the second. Minutes later made a superb centring pass to RNH on the 3-2. Then made a fine rush, stop-up, and centring pass to Yamamoto for the game winner. Topped it off with a brilliant shift as the clock wound down, first winning the faceoff from O’Reilly, then twice disrupting Blues breakout plays to keep the puck deep.

Advertisement

Article content

#37 Warren Foegele, 6. His key contribution was a drop pass that McLeod buried for the 4-2. Was it a planned play or did the puck roll off his stick? Only Foegele knows for sure. But he was in a good spot creating a dangerous chance and it certainly worked out.

#56 Kailer Yamamoto, 8. His night got off to an unpromising start when he was set up twice by Draisaitl in the slot and failed to get a shot on net, firing wide of the target on one and double-clutching on the other that had this observer mumbling about his need to develop an effective one-timer. But made up for it in a big way later. Earned his first assist of the season on RNH’s first goal of the season, jumping high(-ish) to cut off a clearing shot along the left wing boards, then feed it to Draisaitl down low for the killer pass. His big moment came in the game’s final minute when he burst into the slot, accepted Drai’s centring pass and did indeed fire an effective one-timer that overpowered Craig Billington.

Advertisement

Article content

#70 Colton Sceviour, 4. Took a killer penalty late in the first, moments after the Oilers had barely survived 2 prior Blues powerplays. Sure enough, they converted their third chance after just 7 seconds. Was also in frame on the 4-3 goal, losing a battle to big Colton Parayko in the corner. Did have 2 shots and a team-high 3 hits in his 7:23 of action, and chipped in nearly 3 minutes on the penalty kill. He does lots of “the little things” right; I can see why coaches like him.

#71 Ryan McLeod, 7. Has come alive on this road trip and was rewarded in St. Louis with his first NHL goal, when he jumped on Foegele’s “pass” and fired a one-timer off the backhand side that found the top of the net behind Binnington. Came just 8 seconds after RNH had put the Oilers in front and sent the Oilers to the room with a should-be-comfortable 2-goal cushion. Skated well, moved the puck OK and dominated the faceoff dot with 9/11=82%, matching Ryan for the team lead on a night the team as a whole went 38/61=62%.

Advertisement

Article content

#75 Evan Bouchard, 4. Had his struggles defensively, finding himself on the wrong side of more than one Blues attacker. Beaten by a cross-ice pass on the St. Louis powerplay goal, and lost a battle on the 4-4 when the goal scorer got inside of him and into the blue paint for the tap in. Had 1 decent look at the other end. Played 23:46 to lead all Oilers (1 second more than Nurse!), and also topped all penalty killers with 4:16, contributing some good clears to that effort.

#93 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 8. All over the puck all night. Appeared determined to break his season-long goal drought, and finally got rewarded when he converted a Draisaitl feed with a quick shot through both defender and goaltender to put the Oilers in front 3-2. That was just 1 of the 8 shots he fired over the course of the game, each of them on target. Nearly scored earlier when he won a puck battle in his own territory on the penalty kill, sped up ice, used Hyman as a decoy and nearly jammed one home from the edge of the crease, drawing a penalty in the process. Drew another later in the game, while taking one of his own along the way. His on-ice shot share of 73% was best on the team.

Advertisement

Article content

#97 Connor McDavid, 7. Scored a splendid goal in the dying seconds of the first to send his team to the room with a better scoreline at 1-1 than they had earned with their play. A big lift at a key moment. In the process became the fastest player this century to reach 600 career points. Followed up with a fine pass to Draisaitl for the 2–1 early in the second. His line spent a little too much time chasing the game — shots on net were a high-event 13 for, 15 against during his nearly 20 minutes at even strength. Did make a key play on that great closing shift. For the fourth game on the road trip was on the receiving end of one foul so obvious that it had to be called… except it wasn’t. Took a penalty of his own which, while deserved in isolation, has to be supremely frustrating.

Advertisement

Article content

Recently at the Cult of Hockey

LEAVINS: Maybe we should all be glad Tortorella is on ESPN — 9 Things

McCURDY: Player grades — Oilers leave 2 points behind in Buffalo

LEAVINS: Player grades — Oilers dig deep for win in Boston

STAPLES: These Oilers are legit, but expect a trade or two

Follow me on Twitter @BruceMcCurdy

Advertisement

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Sports

Olympic diplomatic boycott: PM says decision coming today – CTV News

Published

 on


OTTAWA —
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says there will be an announcement later today on the government’s decision about whether to proceed with a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Olympic Games.

Speaking to reporters on his way into a caucus meeting on Wednesday, Trudeau said it’s important to align with allies – many of whom have chosen not to send government officials to the Games, but allow athletes to continue to compete.

“For the past many, many months we’ve been talking about our approach with allies around the world. We know that on issues like this it’s important to make sure that we are working with our allies…we will have an announcement to make later today,” he said.

The U.S. announced a diplomatic boycott on Monday as a means of protesting against human rights abuses in China towards the Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang province.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that the U.S. has a “fundamental commitment to promoting human rights” and that it “will not be contributing to the fanfare of the Games.”

Since then, Australia and the U.K. have followed suit.

China has denied those allegations and says the boycott violates “the principle of political neutrality of sports established by the Olympic Charter and runs counter to the Olympic motto `more united,”‘ Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters.

Many former diplomats and international security analysts suggest Canada should go further and enforce a full boycott, withdrawing all Canadian presence, including athletes.

Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly also commented on the issue on Wednesday, noting that Canada is acting in a “diligent” manner.

“The most important thing for Canada right now is to make sure that we can have a strong voice on the question of human rights in Xinjiang in China,” she said.

With a file from The Associated Press.

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Sports

Nick Ritchie finally scores his first as the Leafs get the jump on the Blue Jackets – Toronto Star

Published

 on


In the understated words of Nick Ritchie: “It had been a while.”

On a night of highlight plays from Michael Bunting and Jack Campbell, and a scoring streak continuing for Auston Matthews, it finally happened for Ritchie.

It took 27 games and 40 shots but the $2.5-million-a-year free-agent signing finally got his first goal with the Maple Leafs in Toronto’s 5-4 win Tuesday night over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

“It felt good, helping the team, scoring a goal at home, and a win after a couple of losses,” Ritchie said. “It had been a while. Two months. A lot of games. As long of a (drought) as I’ve had in hockey. Feels good to get one. Hopefully I can build some confidence.”

The crowd was particularly supportive when public address announcer Mike Ross announced it was Ritchie’s “first goal as a Maple Leaf” and his teammates seemed happier than Ritchie.

“That’s almost better than scoring, seeing how much your team cares,” he said. “We have a tight team and everyone gets excited for little things.”

Loading…Loading…

Ritchie had proven himself as a goal scorer, with 15 last year in a shortened season in Boston. He wondered sometimes why he was having trouble scoring in Toronto.

“It’s not an easy league to score in,” he said. “You have to get lucky, too. I had a couple of good chances the last little while. I just had to stay with it. I knew eventually it would finally go in for me.”

Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said he predicted Ritchie would score Tuesday, but admitted he’s been predicting it would be Ritchie’s night for a while.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Keefe said. “I started calling it, then I stopped. It was his birthday the other day. But in the coach’s room before the game, I called it. I thought it would be on the power play.

“I can’t take a lot of credit for it, because I’ve been calling it and calling it. I did feel strongly that today was going to be the day. He’s been very quietly putting up points in the past five games. You could see it coming. He’s had good chances. I’m thrilled for him.”

About the game: Ritchie’s goal, the team’s offence and the play of Alex Steeves and Kristians Rubins. both of whom got into their first NHL games. was about all Keefe liked about the game. But it was a fun one to watch.

Matthews ended the night with two goals and an assist, Morgan Rielly had four assists, William Nylander had a goal and an assist and John Tavares also scored in a game in which the outcome never felt in doubt despite a late-game push by the Blue Jackets.

Olivier Bjorkstrand scored twice for Columbus. Sean Kuraly and Max Domi scored late for Columbus — Domi with one second left — to make the result look more flattering for the Jackets than the game really was.

“I didn’t like much about the game in any period,” Keefe said. “We found ways to strike offensively, whether it was on the power play (Nylander, Tavares) or off the rush (Matthews, twice) but, in terms of how we like to play, I don’t think there was a lot to like about the game.

“I’m happy the third period caught up to us, because it should have. Not a good game for us, but a good result. Needed to get back on the right side of it.”

Getting rest: Keefe thought the team was simply tired. They’d been out west for three games, came home for one, and then went back west for two, so it felt like a long trip. Plus the roster was in flux.

Mitch Marner missed his third game with a shoulder injury, suffered in practice Friday. Rasmus Sandin was out with the effects of knee-on-knee injury suffered Sunday in Winnipeg. Travis Dermott, too, was sidelined with a shoulder issue. And Jason Spezza missed the first-game of a six-game suspension for his knee to the head of Winnipeg’s Neal Pionk, whose knee injured Sandin.

“We’re a tired group that needs time,” said Keefe, who gave his team Wednesday off. “We’re a team that needs to regroup itself.”

Quick start: Nylander, Matthews and Ritchie got the Maple Leafs off to a 3-0 lead in a first period they dominated. The led the shot-clock 18-9 after 20 minutes.

Nylander scored on the power play, and Matthews made it 2-0 on a nice feed from Michael Bunting who, with a defenceman draped all over him, pulled off a between-the-legs pass to Matthews, who had an easy tap-in to extend his goals streak to seven straight games. Tavares and Matthews scored seven seconds apart in the final two minutes of the middle frame.

Matthews is on a tear, with 10 goals in his last seven games and 17 on the season. He has rejoined the conversation for the Rocket Richard Trophy, putting himself within striking distance of NHL goal leaders Leon Draisaitl and Alex Ovechkin, who had 21 and 20 as the games began Tuesday.

The new guys: Steeves and Rubins are feel-good stories.

Rubins, who is on Latvia’s short list of potential Olympians, is 23 and worked his way up the Leafs system. Undrafted out of the Medicine Hat Tigers, he started with the Newfoundland Growlers in 2018. He’s six-foot-five and cuts an imposing figure on the blue line.

“Dream come true, just a special night for me,” he said, after being paired with Timothy Liljegren and going minus-1 in 13 minutes and 40 seconds.

Steeves was a standout at Notre Dame last year who kept up his scoring ways with the Marlies, despite missing camp with an injury. Steeves had seven goals in 12 games with the Marlies.

“It was super special, really happy we got the win,” said Steeves, who was minus-1 while playing 8:28. “It was a tangible goal of mine to play for the Leafs this year. I didn’t really have a set date. To get the call this early was special. It wasn’t something I was really thinking about, but I just knew I wanted to get here.”

Roster notes: Veteran defenceman Alex Biega was also among the call-ups, as insurance, due to the litany of injuries. He was scratched for Tuesday’s game … Forward Joey Anderson was returned to the Marlies … Jake Muzzin left the game briefly in the first period after taking a shot off his foot.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Conversations are opinions of our readers and are subject to the Code of Conduct. The Star does not endorse these opinions.

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Sports

Maple Leafs support Spezza’s appeal, but must ‘press on’ after suspension – Sportsnet.ca

Published

 on


TORONTO — The way Jason Spezza practised Tuesday morning is the way he always practises.

Smiling and laughing with his Toronto Maple Leafs teammates, you’d have no idea the veteran was only hours away from a significant suspension.

Spezza was slapped with a six-game ban midway through the Leafs’ win over the Columbus Blue Jackets for kneeing Winnipeg Jets defenceman Neal Pionk in the head Sunday.

Through his 19 years and 1,203 games in the league, this marks the first time the 38-year-old Spezza has faced supplemental discipline.

And he is appealing the Department of Player Safety’s ruling.

“Look,” coach Sheldon Keefe said Tuesday night. “I think everybody in this room, everybody in the game knows the character and integrity that Jason Spezza has through his entire career. We do and always will support him. He’s going to weigh his options that he has in this process.

“But from our perspective, it’s important that we just press on here. That’s all we can do.”

Spezza’s initial appeal will arrive on the desk of commissioner Gary Bettman, who seldom overrules his own safety department. Next, Spezza and his camp could take their objection to an independent arbitrator.

These steps take time, and Spezza is available to return to action for the Leafs on Dec. 19 in Seattle.

During Spezza’s in-person (Zoom) hearing, the Maple Leafs argued that (a) this was not kneeing, (b) Pionk was eligible to be checked on the play, and (c) Spezza could’ve delivered a legal check had Pionk not fallen further toward the ice before contact.

Player safety agreed only that Pionk was eligible to be hit. Even so, the department maintains that the onus is on Spezza to get lower to deliver a clean hit and avoid head contact.

Player safety described Spezza’s actions as “reckless and retaliatory” for Pionk’s knee-on-knee hit of Rasmus Sandin earlier in the game, describing the Spezza hit as a “forceful retribution on a player who is in a vulnerable position.”

The department also weighed Pionk’s injury; the Jets announced the defenceman is in concussion protocol.

Though they disagree with the ruling, the Maple Leafs wish to avoid excuses or finger-pointing while Spezza sits.

“We’ve got to have guys come in and play and accept more responsibility,” Morgan Rielly said. “And I think we’ve got the depth to do that.”

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending