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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 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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Berrettini ends Murray’s comeback at Queen’s

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Berrettini ends Murray’s comeback at Queen’s

Andy Murray‘s grasscourt return was cut short in brutal fashion at Queen’s Club as Italian top seed Matteo Berrettini dished out a 6-3 6-3 defeat to the former world number one on Thursday.

The 34-year-old two-time Wimbledon champion, playing in his first singles tournament on grass for three years, could not handle the ferocious pace of Berrettini as he slid to defeat.

Murray eased past Benoit Paire in his opening match on Tuesday but world number nine Berrettini was too big a step up.

Berrettini’s huge first serve and forehand did most of the damage but the Italian also showed plenty of silky touch on the slick lawns to register his first career win over Murray.

Berrettini, 25, finished the match off with a powerful hold of serve, banging down four massive first serves before sealing victory with a clubbing forehand winner.

He faces British number one Dan Evans in the quarter-final after Evans beat Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.

Murray, a five-time winner of the traditional warm-up event but now ranked 124 after long battles with hip injuries including resurfacing surgery in 2019, has been handed a wildcard for the Wimbledon championships.

Apart from a slight groin niggle, Murray said he was reasonably happy with his condition, considering this was only his third Tour-level tournament of the year.

“I think obviously I need to improve,” Murray told reporters. “I actually felt my movement was actually quite good for both of the matches. My tennis today was not very good today. That’s the thing that I’ll need to improve the most.

“I felt like today that that sort of showed my lack of matches.”

Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez, who won the singles title in 2019 and the doubles alongside Murray, was beaten 6-2 6-3 by Canada‘s Denis Shapovalov.

(Reporting by Martyn HermanEditing by Toby Davis and Pritha Sarkar)

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Be Like the King of the North Division and Develop Skills

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North Division

It’s been a year unlike no other for Canadian hockey teams, with COVID-19 travel restrictions forcing the creation of a new NHL division made up entirely of Canadian teams. The previous generation of NHL hockey was known as the “Dead Puck Era” because referees tolerated slowing down the game with clutching and grabbing.

The leading scorers today score in jaw-dropping fashion and routinely pull off stickhandling dangles that were unimaginable until only recently. The Canadian team that will win the North Division will be the one with the most skill.

Here are the training aids that will help you develop your skills all year long.

Passers

Innovators like HockeyShot Canada make “passers” so that players can develop pinpoint accuracy and the soft hands necessary to cradle and control a pass when it lands on your stick. The high-quality rubber bands return the puck with the same force which passed it, so you can give yourself one-timers or work on accuracy.

Whether you’re on a two-on-one, sending a breakout pass from the defensive zone, or holding down the blue line on the power play, every positional player needs to pass accurately.

Shooting

A player is lucky to get a few shots on net each game, and they can’t let them go to waste. Until recently, players needed to rent ice in the off-season to practice their shots in realistic game-like conditions.

Now, players can use shooting pads at their home that let pucks glide as they do on real ice. Shooting is perhaps the one skill that requires the most repetition because one inch can be the difference between going bar-down and clanking one wide off the post.

Practice your quick release and accuracy and develop an arsenal of shots, including wrist shots, slapshots, one-timers, and more. The more tools in your tool kit, the deadlier a sniper you’ll be.

Stick Handling

Having the puck on your stick is a responsibility, and you don’t want to cough it up to the other team and waste a scoring chance or lose possession. The ability to stickhandle helps you bide time until a teammate is open, so you can pass them the puck and continue attacking.

If you’re on a breakaway, you may want to deke the goalie rather than shoot if your hands are silky enough. Develop stickhandling skills, and you’ll keep goalies and opponents guessing – being unpredictable helps make a sniper’s job easier.

Of course, you also need to handle the puck in your own zone without causing a turnover. Stickhandling is a crucial skill in all areas of the ice.

When the coach sends you over the board, you need to be prepared for whatever comes your way. Maybe you’ll get the puck in the slot or somewhere else, but when it’s playoffs, you always need to be ready. The Kings of the North Division have all of the above skills and more, and you can too if you practice all year.

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Australia swim trials calendar shift to reap Tokyo rewards

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Australia swim trials calendar shift to reap Tokyo rewards

Australia broke with tradition to hold its swimming trials just six weeks before the start of the 2020 Olympics and former world champion Giaan Rooney said the move could reap rich rewards in Tokyo after disappointments at London and Rio.

Australia has typically held its trials up to six months before an Olympics but that gap has been drastically cut this year with swimmers vying for Tokyo spots this week in Adelaide.

Rooney, who won individual world titles at Fukuoka and Montreal and a relay gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics, said Australia is gearing up for a much improved Games after its swimmers flopped at Rio and London.

“I think we needed to make it work,” she told Reuters. “The shift started about a year ago to bring the trials into line with the rest of the world and qualify five or six weeks before.

“In sport and swimming, six months is a long time,” Rooney added. “From a coaching perspective, it’s much better to know you have chosen the team in form.”

After winning five gold medals at Sydney 2000 and seven in Athens, the Australian team was rocked by accusations of disruptive behaviour by some of its top sprinters at the 2012 Olympics.

Australia won just one gold medal in the London pool and three in Rio five years ago.

Australia knew something had to be done if it was to close the gap on the powerful Americans and moving the trials is part of the strategy.

“I think it’s to make your swimmers more resilient to change,” Rooney said.

“In the USA they get to race every week regardless of illness or breakups and under all circumstances. Nothing rattles them.

“Australia doesn’t have that racing continuity. This is about making sure you are prepared for anything. I think our swimmers are more resilient than they have been in the past decade, COVID is part of this.”

Rooney said there might even be an “upside” for Australia with the Olympics postponed by a year due to the global health crisis, with the emergence of swimmers like teenager Kaylee McKeown, who broke the women’s 100m backstroke world record on Sunday.

“We are now talking about athletes who are not only going to make the Olympics but are medal chances,” Rooney said.

“We wouldn’t have been talking about her this time last year. She might not have been ready for a position on the team. She is now a legitimate gold medal chance in Tokyo once she gets there.”

For all her confidence about Australia’s performance in Tokyo, Rooney was wary of making predictions about a gold rush for her compatriots.

“I think this will be a more successful Olympics for us than Rio in the pool but individual goal medals will still be difficult to come by,” said the 38-year-old.

“The biggest challenge is to make the jump from minor medals to gold.”

 

(Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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