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The Edmonton Oilers claw back to break up the Bruins’ brilliant home ice run: Cult of Hockey Player Grades



The Boston Bruins were 35-0-2 this season when leading after 2, having never lost in regulation in that situation.

But in the face of adding to that daunting statistic, the Edmonton Oilers would not be denied. Despite the 2-0 deficit they found themselves in after 1 period of play, the Oilers battled back. Slowly and surely, they chipped away at the Bruins’ armor. And Stuart Skinner, who surrendered 2 really bad goals, was seemingly unshaken by them…and locked it down the rest of the way.
Meanwhile, his teammates both found enough weaknesses and limited what they gave Boston to skate away with a 3-2 win and 2 points against the league’s best team.No small accomplishment.

Here is the tale of the tape…

Cult of Hockey Player Grades


STUART SKINNER. 6. Whiffed on the Bruins’ first shot of the game, the puck pin-balling through his pads and in. This, after his team had all but dominated Boston the first four minutes. The, after rebounding with a number of fine saves mid-period, a terrible turnover by him led to the 2-0 with 0.3 left in the 1st. But after putting his squarely behind the 8-ball, Skinner slammed the door closed the rest of the way. Stopped Bergeron on a late 2nd period 1-timer. Big stop on Carlo off a turnover in the 3rd. Ultimately stopped 26 of 28 for the victory. A lot of goalies would crumble after a start like that. Skinner did not.

CONNOR McDAVID. 4. As quiet of a 60 minutes as I have ever seen Connor McDavid turn in. A lot of that credit goes to Bruins who surrendered #97 precious little gap all night long. Could not drain the EN goal after a nice setup from Draisaitl. 0 points. Most of us were left holding our breath after a mid-ice collision in the 3rd sent McDavid limping to the bench but he returned for 2 shifts after that. 1 shot, -1.ZACH HYMAN. 3. A very rare off-night. Whistled for a 1st Period hold. Pass to Nurse for a dangerous chance in the 2nd. 5v5 CF 7-15, 32%. Scoring Chances For-Against 2-8. -2.

EVANDER KANE. 5. Played with jump in his first game back. Called for a 1st Period hold which the Bruins’ Lindholm embellished. Heavy hit on Zacha in the first 20, one of 3 on the night.

DARNELL NURSE. 8. Couldn’t knife down the pass on the 2-0 but in Nurse’s defence the goal against was squarely on the goaltender. But he was otherwise terrific. Good chance off a Hyman set-up in the 2nd. Then, his seeing eye shot from the point found net through a screen to make it 3-2. Led the club in shots with 5 and in ice-time at 24:41. That included a perfect 1:58 short-handed. Was physical, adding 3 hits. and he skated miles. Named the game’s 1st Star.CODY CECI. 7. Very good defensive stick stopped a Marchant chance in the 2nd. Heavy, hard shot swallowed up by the Bruins goalie late in the 2nd. Just a terrific keep on a difficult puck at the point, then slid it across to Nurse for the game winner. Big shot block late. Battled hard. Ceci has been struggling for a while, now, maybe a solid performance like this turns that around.

LEON DRAISAITL. 6. Heavy hit drove Lindholm into the end boards in the 1st. Fed Nugent-Hopkins for an early 3rd Period chance. A high-level chance on a terrific cutback on Carlo in the 3rd. Integral on the winning goal, as Draisaitl beat double coverage coming out of the corner and fed the point. A well-earned assist for that tidy bit of work. Led the forwards with 22:52 of TOI. 53% on draws. Not everything clicked for him but he kept at it.RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS. 5. A smart stick and clear on the Bruins first PP. Missed high on a pass from Draisaitl behind the net. An effective screen on the winning goal. Hit the post on an empty net.

KAILER YAMAMOTO. 4. Ineffective, especially over 40 minutes. Allowed Orlov to walk out of the corner for a dangerous chance in the 3rd. Got going a bit late, but his performance was uneven at best.

MATTIAS EKHOLM. 8. The Oilers 2nd pair was solid. And Ekholm played a massive role in both that and the resulting victory. A menacing physical presence including a notable hit on Krejci in the 1st. 2nd Period takeaway. A rare turnover in the 3rd led to a chance against. Big 3rd Period shot block on none other than Pastrnak followed. Check out this stat line: 2 shots, 6 hits, 4 shot blocks in 20:47 plus a perfect 1:46 on the PK. Ala Bob Stauffer, Ekholm is +7 in 5 games since the deadline. What a great acquisition.EVAN BOUCHARD. 7. One of the Oilers best performers over 40 minutes, albeit an imperfect performance. Strong open ice hit from Bouchard in the 1st. A failed zone clear led to a 1st Period chance against. Walked by DeBrusk early in the 2nd. Broke a 43-game drought with a wicked wrist shot to finish off a 4-on-1 Oilers break, making it 2-1. 3 shots. Played with an extra dose of intensity. Really good to see.

NICK BJUGSTAD. 5. Bit of an ebb in his game, 5v5 CF 6-10, 38%. Still, was a handful in the heavy going. 44% in the circle.WARREN FOEGLE. 5. Worked hard. Missed the net on a 1st Period breakaway. Moved the puck back to Ceci for a shot late in the 2nd.

MATTIAS JANMARK. 6. Primary assist on the 2-1 after picking up a loose puck along the wall in the neutral zone. Good neutral zone takeaway.

BRETT KULAK. 4. Absolutely crushed in shot shares 5v5 (8-18, 31%). An indecisive poke check at the attacking blueline led to a Bruins 2-on-1 in the other direction. But he managed to saw-off in Grade A’s at 3-3.

VINCENT DESHARNAIS. 5. Heavy hit on Frederic in the 2nd. Chased quite a bit on the 3rd pairing, but managed to limit the damage.

DEREK RYAN. 6. The veteran continues to pitch in and make it impossible to take him out of the lineup. His hard forecheck helped lead to the 2-2. No assist but the goal does not get scored without hiscontribution on that sequence. Drew a 3rd Period PP. A key intercept and clear late in the 3rd. 3 hits. Quite an impact in just 8:56.

RYAN McLEOD. 7. Not especially sharp early but warmed considerably as the game wore on. And once his feet got moving he was dangerous. Set up Bouchard for a 2nd period chance. Then, slapped home a Devin Shore centering pass into the slot for his first in 13, tying the game at 2. 2 shots and 3 hits. 2:01 shorthanded. Named the game’s 2nd Star.DEVIN SHORE. 7. Tremendous play on the tying goal as he first blocked an attempted clearing pass and then slid a lovely pass into the slot for Ryan McLeod who did not miss. All he has done is contributed since his recall from Bakersfield. An industrious 9:17 of TOI. Assists in 3 straight, now.

Also, a stick tap to the Oilers video crew…as the original Bruins 2-0 was (correctly) called back on the off-side.

The Oilers are now 36-22-8, 80 points. Edmonton holds the 1st Wild Card spot in the Western Conference, but are just 4 points out of 1st. Toronto is next.

Find me on Twitter @KurtLeavins, on Instagram at LeavinsOnHockey, and now on Mastodon at



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Maple Leafs clinch playoff berth with Panthers loss to Senators



The Toronto Maple Leafs clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Monday.

The Maple Leafs (44-20-9), who clinched when the Florida Panthers lost 5-2 to the Ottawa Senators, are second in the Atlantic Division, 22 points behind the Boston Bruins and seven ahead of the third-place Tampa Bay Lightning.

It’s the seventh straight season Toronto has clinched a playoff berth. It hasn’t won a postseason series since 2004.

The Maple Leafs are led by forwards Mitchell Marner (94 points), William Nylander (81), Auston Matthews (77), and John Tavares (75). Ilya Samsonov is 24-9-3 with a 2.46 goals-against average, .914 save percentage and three shutouts in 36 games (35 starts). Matt Murray is 14-8-2 with a 2.97 GAA, .905 save percentage and one shutout in 25 games.


Toronto made several moves prior to the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline on March 3, acquiring forwards Ryan O’Reilly and Noel Acciari from the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 17, defenseman Jake McCabe and forward Sam Lafferty from the Chicago Blackhawks on Feb. 27, defenseman Erik Gustafsson from the Washington Capitals on Feb. 28 and defenseman Luke Schenn from the Vancouver Canucks on Feb. 28.

O’Reilly is expected back before the playoffs begin April 17. He hasn’t played since getting hit in the hand by Matthews’ shot in the second period of a 4-1 loss at the Vancouver Canucks on March 4 and was projected to be out four weeks.

The Maple Leafs have won the Stanley Cup 11 times, once each as the Toronto Arenas (1917-18) and the Toronto St. Patricks (1921-22). They are without an NHL championship since 1967.


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Canadian Bianca Andreescu retires from Miami Open match after suffering injury



Canadian Bianca Andreescu suffered an apparent leg injury during the second set of her match against Ekaterina Alexandrova at the Miami Open on Monday.

Andreescu was injured in the third game of the second set of the Round of 16 match while trying to run down a ball in the back court.  She remained down on the court, before receiving medical attention and leaving the court in a wheelchair.

Alexandrova won the first set of the match 7-6, Andreescu was up 2-0 in the second set when she retired from the match due to the injury.

The match was delayed for an hour by rain in the middle of the opening set.


The 22-year-old Canadian was playing well at the Miami tournament, entering play on Monday with victories over Emma Raducanu, No. 7 Maria Sakkari and Sofia Kenin earlier in the competition.


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Quick Reaction: Wizards 104, Raptors 114



O. Anunoby37 MIN, 29 PTS, 8 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 11-21 FG, 4-10 3FG, 3-4 FT, 3 BLK, 1 TO, 18 +/-

From the opening tip OG was a force offensively and continued to flash the self creation signs that everyone wants to see, he had a career high 18 in the first quarter and hit a lot of tough jumpers off the bounce, as well as spaced the floor with catch and shoot triples.

P. Siakam34 MIN, 19 PTS, 11 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 7-17 FG, 1-3 3FG, 4-4 FT, 0 BLK, 3 TO, -3 +/-

Pretty poor game from Pascal by his standards, a lot of shots seemed forced and he couldn’t finish through contact, very well, his playmaking also was muted because he seemed to be hunting his own shot.

J. Poeltl26 MIN, 12 PTS, 12 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 6-9 FG, 0-0 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 3 TO, 7 +/-

Jakob’s floaters and push shots worked wonderfully tonight and he did a great job not rushing it like he does most games, offensive rebounding was also key as well, Jakob had 6 in this game which led to countless second chance points.

S. Barnes32 MIN, 13 PTS, 5 REB, 6 AST, 3 STL, 5-14 FG, 0-2 3FG, 3-3 FT, 1 BLK, 1 TO, 10 +/-


Solid game in his first game back from injury, hit some tough looks in the paint, passing looked good tonight as well, efficiency was a bit off but we can chalk that up to being rusty.

F. VanVleet36 MIN, 28 PTS, 4 REB, 7 AST, 3 STL, 10-21 FG, 5-9 3FG, 3-3 FT, 1 BLK, 1 TO, 11 +/-

Offensive masterclass from Fred VanVleet, he was zooming all over the floor and he was really burning Washington with his outside shooting, but his playmaking shined really bright tonight as well.

W. Barton04 MIN, 2 PTS, 1 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 1-1 FG, 0-0 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, 0 +/-

Left the game early with an injury.

C. Boucher22 MIN, 6 PTS, 7 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 3-5 FG, 0-1 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, 10 +/-

Boucher was battling on the class yet again and often gave Toronto an extra look tonight, he also was solid as a rim protector as well.

J. Dowtin Jr.19 MIN, 3 PTS, 2 REB, 4 AST, 0 STL, 1-2 FG, 1-1 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, 14 +/-

Didn’t add a whole lot offensively but he was harassing guys on ball as a defender, and moving the rock well as well, would like to see Dowtin look for his own a bit more often

C. Koloko15 MIN, 0 PTS, 1 REB, 0 AST, 3 STL, 0-2 FG, 0-0 3FG, 0-0 FT, 1 BLK, 0 TO, 7 +/-

Koloko entered the game by recording a steal and then a block on back to back possessions, and then he continued to play solid defense in drop coverage, really strong game for the rook.

M. Flynn07 MIN, 0 PTS, 0 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 0-3 FG, 0-3 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, -10 +/-

Didn’t take advantage of his looks on the floor tonight.

P. Achiuwa06 MIN, 2 PTS, 2 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 1-2 FG, 0-1 3FG, 0-2 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, -10 +/-

Another rough night for Precious as he tries to regain his footing, just couldn’t find it defensively, ran the floor in transition just fine during limited time.

Nick Nurse

Although Toronto was healthier, Nurse didn’t force anyone into minutes that were going to damage the team.

Things We Saw

  1. OG Anunoby flashed creation skills once again, in the face up game he burned Washington many times and he even hit a pull up three.
  2. Christian Koloko played some pretty nice defense, his technique in drop was really good tonight.

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