Player grades: Leon Draisaitl leads the charge as Oilers snipers down Ducks, clinch playoff berth
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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#27 Brett Kulak, 5. Skated well, but had a few issues handling/clearing the puck. 3 giveaways on the night. GAS: +0/-1.
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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
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.
“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.
Keep leaving Nnamdi open. <a href=”https://t.co/S2qAWtVNg5″>pic.twitter.com/S2qAWtVNg5</a>
“This is the finals,” Adebayo said. “We gutted one out.”
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.
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:
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.
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.”
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.
The Montreal Canadiens have signed forward Cole Caufield to an eight-year contract extension, the team announced on Monday.
The Canadiens have agreed to terms on an eight-year contract extension (2023-24 to 2030-31) with forward Cole Caufield.#GoHabsGohttps://t.co/BZ1gBIzndL
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) June 5, 2023
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.
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.
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.
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Award-winning Hong Kong journalist wins appeal in rare court ruling upholding media freedom – ABC News
Heat ride 17-5 run in 4th quarter to draw even with Nuggets in NBA Finals – CBC Sports
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