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The Edmonton Oilers eliminate the Senate(ors) in 7-1 blow-out: Player Grades – Edmonton Journal

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The Edmonton Oilers had been outscored 11-2 in 1st Periods over the last 7 games leading into Wednesday’s action.

20 minutes later, it was 4-0 Edmonton and the Oilers didn’t stop there. The 7-1 final flattered the Senators, and then some.

According to my Cult of Hockey colleague Bruce McCurdy, Grade “A” chances for-against were 15-3 Edmonton.

15-3.

Here’s the tale of the tape.

Edmonton Oilers Game Grades

MIKE SMITH. 7. Mike Smith played as good or better than he needed to. Stopped 21 of 22, more than half of those in the final frame with the end result determined already. Smith did have a couple difficult saves, including a 2nd Period stop off Josh Norris and a toe save off Connor Brown in the 3rd. But the game was already over after the 1st Period and Smith had only faced 4 shots at that point. Handled the puck like a pro. Picked up a nice assist on the 3-0 goal.

CONNOR McDAVID. 8. The Game’s 2nd star. A goal and 2 assists. The goal came on a wrist shot from the high slot to make it 4-0, after Draisaitl won a puck battle along the wall and fed McDavid a perfect pass. Connor’s assist on Leon’s hat trick was slick times 5: A back door back-hand that went through both McDavid’s legs and the wickets defender that was tracking him, right onto Draisaitl’s stick. Boom. 4 shots. Ottawa had no answer for this duo who ran over the opposition like the Harlem Globetrotters.

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LEON DRAISAITL. 9. Dominant. A hat trick (the 4th of his career) plus 2 assists. The prettiest of the 3 was an end-to-end effort where Draisaitl picked up the puck at the top of his defending circle. He then proceeded to steam through the entire Ottawa squad including an out-classed Mike Reilly before feinting back-hand to fore-hand and then elevating the puck over Matt Murray. His 2nd was on a one-timer net-side off a slick pass by Nugent-Hopkins. The hatty came on a sick reverse feed by McDavid (described in greater detail above) which Draisaitl drilled home 5-hole. 6 shots on net. 60% in the circle. The Game’s 1st star.

KAILER YAMAMOTO. 6. Didn’t put up the gaudy boxcars that his line-mates did but Yamamoto was effective all night. On at least 2 occasions, over-passing by he and others cost him a better chance. Was the net-front presence and provided an effective screen on the 1-0. Served as a decoy on another. Set up McDavid for a 3rd Period chance. Also set-up for a Grade “A” chance by Draisaitl in the 3rd but couldn’t finish.

DARNELL NURSE. 8. Darnell Nurse was excellent again tonight. 4 shot, 2 hits, 2 blocks. Scored the 1-0 on a seeing-eye dog shot from the point. Added an assist on the 4-0 with a nice play high to get the puck to Draisaitl on the wall. Twice as many chances for as against while he was on the ice. And most of those against were pretty mild. Nurse was partially responsible on the 7-1 goal as his man was able to make a pass across the slot.

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TYSON BARRIE. 7. An offensive dynamo tonight. The Game’s 3rd star with 3 assists. Started the sequence on the 1-0. Started Draisaitl out on the D-zone with a short pass and then watched as Leon did the rest. 4 shots on goal. All Events CF 30-11, 73%. One of the few blemishes on his record was when Barrie’s man scored the 7-1 in front. How do they not re-sign him?

RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS. 6. Sent a beautiful pass from the slot to the side of the net where Leon Draisaitl was camped for the 5-0. I thought that 2nd line had some good looks throughout the game and probably deserved better. But the pucks DO need to go in 5v5, for Tipper to feel comfortable leaving McDavid and Draisaitl together. Was good on draws, 67%.

TYLER ENNIS. 5. Spent a lot of time stopping, spinning and trying to create in the offensive zone. But like the other 2 guys on this line, he didn’t get a whole lot accomplished 5v5.

JESSE PULJUJARVI. 5. Puljujarvi didn’t register a point but consistently looked dangerous, in particular on a pair of power rushes deep into the Ottawa zone. Rang a nice Nugent-Hopkins set-up off the post.

WILLAIM LAGESSON. 6. A very quiet game, which was mostly a good thing. A shot and a hit in 19:20. Broke even on possession. His one mistake was a 3rd Period giveaway. But it was 6-0 at the time. +1. Solid.

ADAM LARSSON. 7. Adam Larsson played a gritty, nasty game and didn’t give an inch all evening. Only credited for 2 hits. Not sure what the official scorer was watching on that one. 4 blocked shots, including 2 in quick succession early in the 3rd Period with the game well out of reach…which says a lot about the player.

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JUJHAR KHAIRA. 7. Didn’t miss on the can’t-miss setup by Devin Shore for his 3rd of the season. Led the team with 6 hits, 73% in the face-off circle. Excellent defensively. What a turnaround by this player since he was waived and banished to the taxi squad. Revitalised.

PATRICK RUSSELL. 5. It feels like I’ve written this paragraph a half-dozen times in Russell’s NHL career: A smart, gritty game, never makes a mistake, a 3rd period zone clear. Back pressure helped create the turnover on the 2-0. Couldn’t cash on a one-timer from a set-up by Connor McDavid. Rinse. Repeat.

DEVIN SHORE. 7. Just a lovely assist, after Shore had created a turnover in the neutral zone. Shore then entered the zone, faked out Matt Murray on a faux deke, and fed a perfect back door pass that Jujhar Khaira drained. Excellent on defence with 3 take-aways and a minute of good work on the PK.

KRIS RUSSELL. 6. This pair spent too much of the night in chase mode, in a 7-1 game. But Russell had 3 blocked shots, one them when the game was well out of reach. A key clear on the PK, lifted an Ottawa stick in front of Mike Smith that probably saved a goal.

ETHAN BEAR. 5. A quiet night. A couple effective pinches. A shot and a block (an excellent one that took a chunk out of him). Lost the possession battle quite properly, but in a game where score effects were a significant factor half-way through the 1st Period.

GAETAN HAAS. 5. Skated miles. Had 2 shots and hit a post. Won a faceoff deep in his zone on a PK, but over-all was just 36% in the circle as Dave Tippett rolled 4 lines much of the night.

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ALEX CHIASSON. 6. An excellent defensive play turned over the puck, and bam…seconds later James Neal had it in the net for the 6-0. A number of smart, veteran plays along the wall to get pucks to safety.

JAMES NEAL. 6. Scored on a wrist shot from the top of the circle after a gritty play by Alex Chiasson turned the puck over. 2 shots in 13:23 as this line held the balance of play while they were on the ice.

The victory draws the Oilers into 2nd place, a record of 17-11 and again…4 back of the 1st place Leafs. More critical, 8 points up on 5th place Vancouver.

Next up? The 3rd game in this Ottawa series Friday.

Find me on Twitter @KurtLeavins

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Drouin must return to mentality that’s led to success this season – Sportsnet.ca

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It was something Dominique Ducharme said after his Montreal Canadiens played an abysmal game against the Ottawa Senators last week, something that only truly resonated after they lost 3-2 to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday — a game that emboldened the struggle Jonathan Drouin’s currently enduring.

“Ninety per cent of the mistakes we made were mental, and the rest of it was above our shoulders.” the coach said after the 6-3 loss to Ottawa last Saturday, somewhat channelling New York Yankees legend Yogi Berra with this bit of wit and wisdom.

It was hard not to think of those words watching Drouin play the way he did on Wednesday. For much of this season, the talented left winger has played a primary role in Montreal’s success. He’s led them with 19 assists, been tenacious on the forecheck, physically engaged all over the ice, cerebral as always in his execution and, as he’s said on several occasions, relatively unconcerned by whether or not his name has been featured on the scoresheet.

But it seemed clear, after watching Drouin dump a breakaway into Jack Campbell’s chest with one of 32 shots the Maple Leafs goaltender turned aside to set a franchise record with his 10th consecutive win, he had diverted from that. And that affected the way he played the rest of the game.

It was Drouin’s fifth in a row without a point, his 18th without a goal, and he’d have to be a robot not to be suffering the mental wear of not seeing the puck go in more than twice since the season started, the torment of seeing only three per cent of his shots hit the back of the net through 36 games after 10 per cent of them resulted in goals through the first 348 games of his career.

“It is weighing on me where, when I have a chance and miss the goal, I might be trying to score too much,” Drouin said. “It’s something I obviously think about — every player would — and I’ve just gotta put it past me and just keep shooting pucks.”

Ideally, the 26-year-old wouldn’t be thinking about any of this. These are thoughts that weigh a player down and right now the Canadiens are in tough without Brendan Gallagher for the rest of the season and Drouin needs to be light and free to help account for that loss. And in order for him to do that, he needs to focus on what he does best.

Because the reality is that even though Drouin can score more, scoring isn’t what he needs to do in order to be at his best and really help this team.

“When his feet are moving and he’s making plays, Drou’s a pass-first guy,” explained Jake Allen, who made 29 saves in Carey Price’s absence. “When his feet are moving, his head’s always in it. When his feet are moving, he’s controlling the play, controlling the puck. He’s a guy who really can control the play for a whole line. You want the puck on that guy’s stick and let the other guys do the dirty work and he’ll find them.”

But when Drouin’s feet aren’t moving, there just isn’t enough of that other stuff happening.

When Drouin’s feet weren’t moving, he lost a battle for the puck in the offensive zone and allowed the NHL’s leading goal scorer to start the rush that resulted in the winning play of Wednesday’s game.

Auston Matthews to Mitch Marner, back to Matthews, off Allen and slammed into Montreal’s net by Zach Hyman with 9:39 remaining in the third period, with Drouin watching from just inside his own blue line.

“You give a 3-on-2 to the Matthews line and it’s the kind of play they’re going to make you pay on,” said Ducharme.

Was Drouin still thinking about that shot he didn’t bury in the second period?

It’s understandable if he was, but those are the kind of thoughts he needs to shake right now.

“He wants to do well, and I’m sure it’s getting a little bit in his head,” said Ducharme. “I think the best remedy for him is to be scoring that goal or making that big play, and I think he’s going to be energized by that and less thinking, more acting.

“It is a fine line. Those kind of thoughts is not something that you want to happen. But when you receive that puck and you see the opening and stuff, (the slump) comes back to (your mind). That’s why the mental part of the game is something that’s very tricky. It’s not his will to be thinking that way. Every player who’s going through a time like that will have that thought and scoring that goal will take him to a different level. At those kind of times you need to make it even simpler and being even more inside going at the net and finding a garbage (goal) right there and you put it in and sometimes you go on a little run. It might be that kind of goal that he needs to get that monkey off his back.”

It’s the kind of goal Corey Perry scored twice to give the Canadiens a chance in this game.

But Drouin isn’t Perry, who rightly pointed out after the game he’s made a career of scoring goals that way. And even if Drouin can borrow from what Perry does next time he has a chance like the one Brett Kulak set him up with for that breakaway, there are other ways he can positively impact the game.

You can appreciate that Drouin said he’s putting pressure on himself to score more and help make up for the goals the team will be missing with Gallagher sidelined, but that might not get him to where he needs to be mentally to contribute as much as he already has this season.

What would, though, is a sharp turn towards the mentality he described just days ago. The one that’s enabled him to be a much more consistent player this season than he has in seasons past.

“When I was younger, I’d stay on one game or stay on one play for too long and wouldn’t be able to let it go for a bit or a couple of days,” Drouin said. “But I think for me now it’s can I look at myself in the mirror after a game and did I give my good effort? Was I a part of this game? Was I doing something right in a lot of areas?

“That’s what I do now. I think points are there, goals are there, assists are there, but it’s just about playing that real game and playing to help your team win.”

Drouin’s done a lot of that this season and has a chance to get right back to it when the Winnipeg Jets visit the Bell Centre Thursday.

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Scioscia to lead U.S. baseball bid for spot at Tokyo Olympics

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(Reuters) – Mike Scioscia, who won World Series both as a player and manager, was named manager of the U.S. men’s national baseball team on Tuesday, as they seek a spot at the Tokyo Olympics.

After 19 seasons as manager of the Anaheim Angels, guiding them to their only World Series win in 2002, Scioscia will make his international coaching debut in June when the United States hosts the Baseball Americas Qualifier in Florida.

For the tournament the U.S. will be grouped with the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Nicaragua in Pool A while Canada, Colombia, Cuba, and Venezuela will make up Pool B.

The top two teams from each pool will advance to the Super Round, where the country with the best overall record will earn a spot in the Tokyo Olympic tournament.

Second and third-place finishers will advance to a final qualifier, joining Australia, China, Taiwan, and the Netherlands.

“Mike’s tenure with the Angels’ franchise was nothing short of spectacular, creating and celebrating a culture of success with six division titles, an American League pennant, and its first-ever World Series title,” said USA Baseball Executive Director/CEO Paul Seiler in a statement. “More impactfully, his leadership, integrity, and character are unparalleled in our game, making him the perfect fit for the USA Baseball family.”

The Olympic tournament will take place from July 28-Aug. 7 in Fukushima City and Yokohama.

Hosts Japan, Israel, South Korea, and Mexico have already secured a berth in the six-team field.

 

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Toby Davis)

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Masters 2021: Tiger Woods says he'll miss Champions Dinner, running up DJ's bill – Golf Channel

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AUGUSTA, Ga. – Dustin Johnson will host his first Champions Dinner on Tuesday night in the Augusta National clubhouse, and he’ll be joined by several past Masters champions.

One former winner who won’t be there is five-time champ Tiger Woods, who is still home in South Florida recovering from a serious car accident in February near Los Angeles. Justin Thomas, who is still working toward his invite to the prestigious dinner, said Woods texted him Friday night and was “bummed” to not be at the Masters this year.

Woods then tweeted Tuesday afternoon that he’ll miss one of his favorite nights of the year.

“I’ll miss running up @DJohnsonPGA’s bill at the Champions Dinner tonight,” Woods said. “It’s still one of my favorite nights of the year.”

Johnson responded to Woods’ tweet, saying: “Will miss having you here. This week isn’t the same without you.”

The PGA Tour announced that the club would leave a seat open for Woods at the dinner, though the tweet has since been taken down.

Johnson will serve a menu including filet mignon, sea bass and peach cobbler.

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