Connect with us


Player grades: Leon Draisaitl leads the charge as Oilers snipers down Ducks, clinch playoff berth




Ducks 0, Oilers 6

Not exactly a hockey masterpiece at Rogers Place on Saturday, but a fun April Fools’ Night all the same as the Edmonton Oilers finished off a 4-0-0 week with a lopsided 6-0 win against the overmatched Anaheim Ducks.

The Oilers came out sluggish, not surprising after a pair of intense wins over Las Vegas and Los Angeles on Tuesday and Thursday, but received some key early saves from Jack Campbell before finding their skating legs and their shooting arms. After opening the scoring late in the first, the Oilers asserted their dominance in the second period by firing 24 shots on John Gibson and stretching their lead to 4-0. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl rounded out the scoring in the third, the former with his 62nd snipe of the season, the latter completing his hat trick in style with his 50th. Campbell minded the store right to the end to earn the shutout, Edmonton’s second in a row.

With the win the Oilers formally clinched their ticket to the playoffs, the fourth season in a row they have qualified for the dance. Fair to say they did it in style.


The Oilers outshot the Ducks 45-36 in the wide-open affair, and held more convincing 27-13 margin in the Cult of Hockey‘s tally of Grade A shots, including 11-5 in the subset of 5-alarm shots (running count).In our recent custom, we will include each skater’s count of contributions to Grade A shots (GAS), both for and against and in all manpower situations, at the end of each player comment.

Player grades

#2 Evan Bouchard, 7. Quiet but efficient. Earned an assist on McDavid’s third-period beauty, kept things tidy at the other end of the ice. GAS: +2/-0.

#5 Cody Ceci, 5. Struggled to move the puck in his own end at times, especially during a difficult opening 20. Settled down thereafter. 21:17 TOI including 1:50 on the penalty kill. 0 shots, 1 hit, 2 giveaways. GAS: +1/-5.

#10 Derek Ryan, 6. 11 quiet minutes, including 1:43 on the PK. His lone shot was a dangerous tip from the slot. This after already being felled in the slot by friendly fire, but lived to fight another day, and went right back to the danger zone, so +1 for bravery. GAS: +1/-0/

#14 Mattias Ekholm, 8. Another superb game from the bearded Swede, refelcted in his boxcars of 0-2-2, +3. His point shot was tipped home by Hyman for the game winner. He chipped in on McDavid’s around-the-world beauty by posting up at the near-side post and occupying 2 defenders and the goalie while McD circled the wagons. Then he made a strong d-zone play and head-man pass to Draisaitl for the shorty that brought the hats down. Strong in defence, including a team-leading 2:53 on the penalty kill. GAS: +5/-0, truly outstanding for a d-man.

#18 Zach Hyman, 7. Another solid performance with 1-1-2, +2, with both points coming from his office around the edges of the blue paint. Tipped home the ice-breaker late in the first period to secure an entirely undeserved lead at the first intermission, and Edmonton cruised from there, His assist was the furthest thing from a slick pass, but well-earned all the same as he crowded the crease, took some friendly fire off the stick of McDavid and saw it bounced over to Draisaitl who tapped it home. GAS: +5/-0.

#19 Devin Shore, 6. Played a shade under 10 minutes centring a fourth line that controlled its part of the game, even as it couldn’t break through with a goal. Zero issues defensively. GAS: +3/-0, setting up each of his linemates for a dangerous shot and producing a third off his own stick.

#21 Klim Kostin, 5. A couple of questionable decisions to pass the puck from good shooting position, but did manage a dangerous drive on his only shot in the third. Led the Oilers with 4 hits. GAS: +1/-0.

#25 Darnell Nurse, 8. Another dynamic game from the big rearguard. Scored his 11th of the season on a good shot through Yamamoto’s screen, in the process achieving a new career high with his 42nd point of the season. Made a fine cross-seam pass to Draisaitl for a one-timer that nearly produced #50. A couple of minor defensive issues, but put out a few fires along the way. Led the d-corps in ice time (22:57), shots (7), blocks (2) and hits (2). Was shoved into the path of a high hard blast and was very fortunate to come away from it unscathed. GAS: +4/-3.

#26 Mattias Janmark, 5. The most effective player on his line, which on this night wasn’t a high bar. Made a fine stretch pass to Foegele for a breakaway. Chipped in 1:35 on the kill. GAS: +2/-0.

#27 Brett Kulak, 5. Skated well, but had a few issues handling/clearing the puck. 3 giveaways on the night. GAS: +0/-1.

#29 Leon Draisaitl, 10. A brilliant performance highlighted by a hat trick including his 50th goal of the season. His third 50-goal campaign, but the first to be achieved on home ice. Scored once each at even strength, on the powerplay (his 30th PPG of the season), and finally goal #50 with a wicked wrist shot on the penalty kill. Had 14 shot attempts, 9 of them on goal, and also chipped in a staggering 9 passes that led to Grade A shots. A team best 9/14=64% on the dot. Edmonton held a staggering 28-10 advantage in shot attempts during his 16 minutes at evens, with 20 of those shots on goal. +4 on the night, and might have had an assist or even 2 with a more generous official scorer.

Now has achieved 50 goals and 50 assists in the same season 3 different times, and was on pace for same in his MVP season of 2019-20 before COVID shut it down with 11 games still on the slate. To put that in perspective, the feat has only been accomplished 1 other time league-wide in Draisaitl’s 9-year career… that being by Connor McDavid in 2022-23. I hope Oil fans realize how good we have it. GAS: +15 (!)/-4.

#36 Jack Campbell, 8. A terrific effort from the beleaguered netminder, who decisively put a stop to his streak of 7 straight starts with at least 4 goals against by shutting the door entirely against the Ducks. Created some of his own challenges with some sloppy rebound control, especially in the first period, but to his credit he responded with the second save each time… and on one memorable occasion, the third, fourth and fifth saves as well. Grew increasingly confident as the game went on, with much better rebound control being a key part of that. 36 shots, 36 saves, 1.000 save percentage. Duck Soup!

#37 Warren Foegele, 4. Struggled on a third line that spent way too much time in its own end, in large part due to sloppy puck management. Foegele’s 3 giveaways were part of that, notably a pair of consecutive turnovers inside his own blueline in the last minute of the first. Did get a breakaway late in the second but couldn’t cash. Oilers were outshot 11-4 during his 10½ minutes at even strength. GAS: +1/-0.

#56 Kailer Yamamoto, 7. Held off the scoresheet but played a key role on the Oilers’ best line with Draisaitl and Kane. A buzzsaw on the puck, his 3 takeaways on the night led both teams. Added 4 shots and a block. His high screen of Gibson was a key element of Nurse’s goal. GAS: +7/-4.

#72 Nick Bjugstad, 4. The big man wasn’t moving well on this night and seemed a step behind the play at times. The only forward without a shot, but 3 giveaways and 5/14 on the dot. Oilers were outshot 11-3 on his watch. Did chip in to a couple of Grade A shots by the second powerplay unit. GAS: +3/-1.

#73 Vincent Desharnais, 5. Low-event, which fits his job description. Blocked 2 shots, created his usual roadblock in front of Oilers’ net. GAS: +1/-1.

#91 Evander Kane, 8. Has found excellent chemistry with Draisaitl and Yamamoto in recent games, with both big men being in “beast mode” more often than not. Had Drai’s back in the first when the Oilers star was on the receiving end of a questionable hit, in the process taking just 2 minutes in the sin bin to Frank Vatrano’s 4. Made a nifty pass to Draisaitl for the 2-0, and both he and #29 were involved in setting the table for Nurse’s 3-0, officially unassisted. 5 shots on net, 2 hits, 1 shot block. Also chipped in 2:11 on the PK to lead the forward corps. GAS: +10/-1.

#93 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 6. A relatively quiet night for the red-hot forward, though he did manage a point, his 97th of the season, on McDavid’s show-stopper. GAS: +4/-3.

#97 Connor McDavid, 7. Good not great, though with a couple of great moments. His 62nd of the season was one such, a thrilling sortie around the offensive zone where he controlled the puck for 6 seconds before sifting a well-placed shot passed a screened Gibson and just inside the stick-side post. Also earned an assist on Draisaitl’s powerplay goal. 5 shots on goal, 3/11=27% on the dot. GAS: +5/-3.



Source link

Continue Reading


Heat ride 17-5 run in 4th quarter to draw even with Nuggets in NBA Finals – CBC Sports



Staring down a 2-0 deficit in the NBA Finals, as the visitors in a hostile arena where no road team had prevailed in more than two months, the Miami Heat decided to do what they’ve done throughout the post-season.

They found a way. Against all odds. Again.

The Heat tied the NBA Finals and had to overcome a monster 41-point effort from Nikola Jokic to do it. Gabe Vincent scored 23 points, Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo each had 21 and Heat beat the Denver Nuggets 111-108 in Game 2 on Sunday night.

“Our guys are competitors,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “They love these kind of moments.”



They were down by as many as 15 points, down eight going into the fourth, and those numbers signified they were going to lose. Denver was 11-0 in these playoffs when leading by double digits at any point in a game, and 37-1 this season overall when leading by at least eight going into the fourth.

The Heat didn’t care. They outscored Denver 17-5 in the first 3:17 of the fourth to take the lead for good, eventually went up by 12, then frittered most of it away and had to survive a 3-point try by Jamal Murray as time expired.

“This is the finals,” Adebayo said. “We gutted one out.”

Game 3 is Wednesday in Miami.

Max Strus scored 14 and Duncan Robinson had 10 — all of them in the fourth — for the Heat, who had a big early lead, then got down by as many as 15. They had no answers for Jokic, who was 16 of 28 from the floor, the last of those shots a 4-footer with 36 seconds left to get the Nuggets within three.

Denver elected not to foul on the ensuing Miami possession and it paid off. Butler missed a 3, and with a chance to tie, Murray missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

“I just contested it,” Butler said. “Pretty glad that he missed it.”

‘Let’s talk about effort’

Denver lost at home for the first time since March 30, and for the first time in 10 home playoff games this year. And just as he did after a Game 1 win, Nuggets coach Michael Malone sounded the alarm after a Game 2 loss.

“Let’s talk about effort,” Malone said. “I mean, this is the NBA Finals and we’re talking about effort. That’s a huge concern of mine. You guys probably thought I was just making up some storyline after Game 1 when I said we didn’t play well. We didn’t play well. … This is not the preseason. This is not the regular season. This is the NBA Finals.”

The Kitchener, Ont., native Murray had 18 points and 10 assists for Denver, while Aaron Gordon had 12 points and Bruce Brown scored 11.

“They just played hard, and like I said, it was more discipline,” Murray said. “It’s defeating when you’re giving up mistake after mistake, and it’s not them beating you, you’re giving them open dunks or open shots. That’s tough to come back from.”

WATCH | Kitchener, Ont., cheering on Murray:

Canadian NBA star Jamal Murray gets hometown love in Kitchener, Ont.

14 hours ago

Duration 1:56

Fans in Canadian basketball star Jamal Murray’s hometown of Kitchener, Ont., are ecstatic as he and the Denver Nuggets drive for a historic NBA championship victory over the Miami Heat.

Strus, who was 0 for 10 in Game 1, had four 3-pointers in the first quarter of Game 2. Butler made a jumper with 4:56 left in the opening quarter to put Miami up 21-10, tying the second-biggest lead any opponent had built in Denver so far in these playoffs.

In a flash, it was gone — and then some.

The Nuggets outscored Miami 32-11 over the next 9 minutes, turning the double-digit deficit into a double-digit lead thanks to an absolute 3-point barrage.

In a 70-second span early in the second quarter, Denver got four 3s — more points than Miami got in that entire 9-minute stretch — and they came from four different players: Brown, then Jeff Green, then Murray, then Gordon.

Boom, boom, boom, and boom. Murray had five straight points to end the flurry, and Denver led 44-32 when it was over. It looked like everything was going Denver’s way.

Miami insisted otherwise. And for the 44th time this season, the Heat won a game by five points or less. None of them was bigger than this one.

“When it comes down to the wire,” Vincent said, “we’re strangely comfortable.”

Adblock test (Why?)


Source link

Continue Reading


Montreal Canadiens sign Cole Caufield to eight-year contract extension – Habs Eyes on the Prize



The forward re-signs with the team for the maximum length.

Montreal Canadiens sign Cole Caufield to eight-year contract extension
Anton Rasegard

The Montreal Canadiens have signed forward Cole Caufield to an eight-year contract extension, the team announced on Monday.

The contract will have an average cap hit of $7.85 million per season, just under the AAV for the same length of contract signed by team captain Nick Suzuki last year. The contract will last until the end of the 2030-31 season.

Caufield finished last season with 26 goals, and held the team lead in that category for most of the season despite playing only 46 games before undergoing shoulder surgery. He also had 10 assists.

The contract now locks in the two franchise cornerstones Caufield and Suzuki for the maximum length and cap hits under $8 million. It’s a good bit of business for Kent Hughes to get this done before free agency, and has the potential for great cap management as the years go by.

In the sixth year of the contract, per CapFriendly, there is a 15 team no-trade clause that drops to 10 teams in year seven and five in year eight.

Patrik Bexell, Matt Drake, and Jared Book discuss the contract in a special Habsent Minded Extra.

Adblock test (Why?)


Source link

Continue Reading


Blue Jays’ Chris Bassitt announces birth of child to cap ‘perfect weekend’



The Toronto Blue Jays had a memorable few days in New York, thanks to a three-game sweep of the Mets, but that’s not the biggest reason starting pitcher Chris Bassitt is all smiles these days.

Bassitt and his wife, Jessica, welcomed their second child over the weekend, with the veteran right-hander reporting that both mother and baby are doing well.

“Perfect weekend complete,” Bassitt wrote on Twitter. “Momma and Colson are doing great.”

Jessica went into labour Friday, while her husband took his normal turn in the Blue Jays’ rotation. Bassitt channelled all of his “dad strength” in that outing against the Mets, firing 7 2/3 innings of shutout ball with eight strikeouts in a 3-0 Toronto win. In a cruel twist from the universe, the start of the game was delayed more than 90 minutes due to inclement weather.


Once his outing was over, Bassitt rushed back to Toronto via private plane to be with Jessica for Colson’s birth. He made it in plenty of time, tweeting Saturday morning that the baby hadn’t arrived yet.

The 34-year-old will now be able to enjoy a few days with his family, as the Blue Jays placed him on the paternity list Saturday. Reliever Jay Jackson took his place on the 26-man roster.

Blue Jays pitcher Chris Bassitt dominated the Mets in his outing Friday. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Blue Jays pitcher Chris Bassitt dominated the Mets in his outing Friday. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

Bassitt’s Blue Jays teammates gave him even more reason to cheer by eking out a 2-1 victory Saturday before getting the brooms out with a 6-4 win in the series finale.

Brandon Belt was the hero Sunday, connecting for a go-ahead, two-run home run in the seventh inning after Toronto squandered an early 4-0 advantage. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. also went deep for the Blue Jays, while Whit Merrifield delivered a two-run double in the second inning.

Next up, Toronto welcomes the Houston Astros to Rogers Centre for a four-game series that begins Monday. Bassitt is listed as the probable starter for Wednesday’s contest.



Source link

Continue Reading