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The Oilers hang around long enough to make it interesting in St. Louis but ultimately fall 2-1 – Edmonton Journal



The Oilers came within a post of a point in St. Louis Wednesday, on a night when the Blues were the better team on-balance.

Both Mikko Koskinen and the Oilers penalty kill were terrific. But the Edmonton power play had the game on it’s collective stick no less than 4 times and came up empty…including a 6-4 man advantage that continued right down to the final buzzer.

The Blues dominated in the 2nd frame in particular. But an 18-8 Oilers advantage in shots down the stretch sure made this one interesting.

Ultimately, make the final 2-1 Blues. Here’s the tale of the tape:

Edmonton Oilers Player Grades

MIKKO KOSKINEN. 8. Mikko Koskinen was nothing short of tremendous versus the Blues, stopping 42 of 44 shots. Stoned former Oiler David Perron on an excellent 1st Period chance and then denied him yet again with a spectacular blocker save in the 2nd. A late save short-side on Schenn in the 3rd kept the game close. Koskinen was not picked as a star by the St. Louis media. Shame on them. We may be seeing him claim the 1st job from between he and Mike Smith.

CONNOR McDAVID. 5. Frustrated all night long up against Ryan O’Reilly (played nearly half of his TOI against 97) and the Blues shutdown pair of Colton Parayko and Jay Boumeester. That’s different than McDavid not playing well offensively. He did manage 3 shots in 22:19. And set up Draisaitl for a good 2nd Period chance. However McDavid was also one of the players principally responsible for the 2-0 goal when he let the late man drift unchecked into the slot.

JOAKIM NYGARD. 4. Often over-matched by the far more physical Blues. Managed 1 shot in 13:24…a lot of that alongside McDavid. Yes, he can skate and forecheck. But he’s miscast in the Top 6.

ZACK KASSIAN. 5. Played a key role in the 2-1 goal as Kassian led the forecheck into the zone and then created a large diversion that took the St. Louis goaltender out of the play. Awarded with an assist for his efforts. Kassian was also guilty of failing to get the puck deep into the offensive zone in what turned out to be the 2-0. Leveled a crushing hit on Oskar Sundquist. His 500th career NHL game deserves a nod as well.

DARNELL NURSE. 6. Failed to shoulder check at the offensive blueline as Ethan Bear was changing behind him on the 1-0. But to be fair, even if he had I’m not sure he would have had a chance to catch Brayden Schenn. 2 shots and a block in 21:21 including 3:31 shorthanded. Probably the Oilers best 2-way D-man tonight.

ETHAN BEAR. 4. Drew a 1st Period PP. A big clear in the slot mid-way through the 2nd. Was he a little slow getting off the ice on the change that handed St. Louis a breakaway? I say yes, although I certainly don’t hang the goal solely on him. Did lose his check below the goal line on the 2-0 though. A dangerous shot on a 2nd Period PP. Played 20:29. Generally played well but a couple of his mistakes were costly.

LEON DRAISAITL. 7. Centered the Oilers best line over the first 2 periods in between Gagner and Neal and was the Oilers best skater. Re-united with McDavid and Kassian for most of the 3rd. Hit the post with 19.3 seconds left. Assisted on the Neal goal to draw within a point of league-leading McDavid in the scoring race. Had 8 shots and fought through a really tough physical battle against the Blues in order to do so. A terrific stick broke up a 2nd Period PP effort by St. Louis and turned into a short-handed chance. Didn’t stop in front on the 2-0 but I thought he was supporting the D-man on the play. Played 23:41. 50% in the faceoff circle.

SAM GAGNER. 6. All 3 players on the 2nd line were well above 50% in CF% on the night, Gagner 14-8, 63%. 2 shots in 11:53 as well as a post. Set up Neal for a very good 1st Period opportunity. Next shift he set up Draaisaitl for another. But he and James Neal also had a malfunction just inside the St. Louis blueline that turned into a breakaway in the other direction for the 1-0. But the puck was headed in the right direction for a majority of his shifts.

JAMES NEAL. 6. His 18th of the season drew the game close at 2-1. It was a terrific shot as most of Neal’s body was behind the goal line but he still found twine with Jake Allen down and out in front. That was one of 4 shots for Neal. But he and Sam Gagner were also partially at fault on the 1-0.

OSCAR KLEFBOM. 6. Good clear on a 1st Period PK. A terrific steal and clear in a 2nd Period PK. His line at the end of the night included 2 shots, 2 blocks, 2 giveaways and a healthy 26:02 TOI. However, he was also part of a power play that came up empty over 4 opportunities and 6:33 of ice-time.

ADAM LARSSON. 7. His best play of the game was a shot block with the net wide open. Larsson managed to get his heel on it and direct it wide. Played a hard-working 19:49 including a close-to-perfect 5:40 shorthanded. Has really found his game of late.

RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS. 5. Had 5 shots on net. Did set up 97 for a chance on a 1st Period deflection-pass. Good clear on a 2nd period PK. The effort was there but not a lot went his way. The best example of that was a 2nd Period back-check that likely saved a goal only to inadvertently tick the puck over the glass to put his club on the PK.

JUJHAR KHAIRA. 5. A good D-zone takeaway in the 1st. A very good block and clear on a 2nd Period PK. Contributed to the penalty kill in a meaningful way overall, logging 2:42 TOI with St. Louis on the man advantage. 2 shots, 3 hits and a block.

ALEX CHIASSON. 4. 2 shots and a hit in 12:14. I didn’t mark him with a single defensive miscue but in a physical game against a big team I thought Chiasson did not make the impact they need him to.

KRIS RUSSELL. 5. A 1st Period giveaway. A good clear on a 2nd Period PK. Over-all played a pretty low-event 12:50.

CALEB JONES. 5. Battled hard, if not always successfully. But the majority of the time the kid bent but did not break. Unfairly nicked with a -1 as he was just coming onto the ice when the 1-0 was going in. A Dangerous shot from the point was 1 of 2 on the night.

RILEY SHEAHAN. 5. This line was hammered in possession at 5×5. Sheahan was 3-11, 21% CF. 5×4 was a different story, though, where Sheahan and crew sparkled in 3:12 worth of shorthanded work. Great clear on a 1st Period PK. Being just 22% on face-offs contributed to the puck chase that too often ensued on his watch.

GAETAN HAAS. 4. Did draw a 1st Period PP. And he and Nygard had a very effective 2nd Period 4×4 shift. But Haas spent too much effort trying to go through that St. Louis D rather than dump & go around. 0 shots in 8:34.

JOSH ARCHIBALD. 4. Very effective on the PK with a clean slate over 2:58 of work. But crushed 5×5 and managed a lone hit in just 9:38. Not the spunky Archibald we’ve seen the past couple.

The Oilers sit 3rd in the Pacific at 19-14-4. They host the Penguins Friday.

Follow me on Twitter @KurtLeavins

Cult of Hockey David Staples

Recently, at The Cult…

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LeBron Saves Team USA in Thrilling Exhibition Against South Sudan at O2 Arena



LONDON — In what could have been one of the most monumental upsets in international basketball history, Team USA narrowly escaped with a 101-100 victory over a spirited South Sudan team at the O2 Arena in London on Saturday night. This exhibition match, serving as a tune-up for the 2024 Olympics, showcased the rapid rise of South Sudanese basketball and the indomitable spirit of the American team led by LeBron James.

The atmosphere at the O2 Arena was electric, with fans witnessing a game that turned out to be far more competitive than expected. South Sudan, a team composed largely of refugees and players from the diaspora, pushed the heavily favored Americans to their limits.

First Half Highlights:

  • South Sudan came out firing on all cylinders, building a surprising 16-point lead in the second quarter.
  • Team USA struggled with their three-point shooting, missing 12 of their first 13 attempts from beyond the arc.

Despite the odds, South Sudan’s players, many of whom have overcome significant personal and professional challenges, played with remarkable cohesion and determination. Their performance was a testament to the rapid progress the team has made under the guidance of former NBA star Luol Deng.

With the game hanging in the balance, LeBron James demonstrated why he remains one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Benched at the start of the third quarter, James returned to the floor with a determination that was palpable.

Key Moments:

  • Third Quarter: Anthony Davis’ defensive prowess helped shrink the deficit. LeBron’s return brought stability and focus back to Team USA.
  • Final Minute: With just 20 seconds left, JT Thor of South Sudan scored over LeBron, giving his team a one-point lead.
  • Game-Winning Shot: LeBron drove to the basket, scoring the decisive layup with eight seconds remaining.

South Sudan’s journey to this point has been nothing short of inspirational. The country gained independence from Sudan in 2011, and the basketball program, still in its infancy, has quickly become a source of national pride.

Notable Contributions:

  • Carlik Jones: Delivered a triple-double with 15 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists.
  • Wenyen Gabriel: LeBron’s former teammate with the Lakers, contributed 11 points.
  • Marial Shayok: Led South Sudan with 24 points.

The team’s formation and rise have been spearheaded by Luol Deng, who played a pivotal role in recruiting and funding the program. His efforts have culminated in South Sudan qualifying for the Olympics, marking a historic achievement for the young nation.

Stephen Curry: “Wild game. They played really intense. It was nice to see how we responded. LeBron with a great finish down the stretch.”

Steve Kerr: “The whole team was embarrassed at halftime. We were challenged today, and it was good for us to feel that now. This was a reminder that we need to bring our best every game.”

Luol Deng: Expressed immense pride in his team’s performance, emphasizing the significance of their journey and the obstacles they have overcome.

This exhibition game was more than just a pre-Olympic warm-up. It highlighted the potential for underdog stories in sports and underscored the global reach and impact of basketball. Team USA, despite the narrow escape, was reminded of the importance of every game and the challenges that lie ahead.

South Sudan, on the other hand, has cemented its place on the international stage, showcasing that with determination and the right support, even the newest teams can compete with the best in the world.

As both teams prepare for the Olympics, this game at the O2 Arena will be remembered not only for its thrilling finish but also for the remarkable stories of resilience and ambition that played out on the court.

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UFC Vegas 94: Amanda Lemos vs. Virna Jandiroba – Main Event Recap



In a thrilling main event at UFC Vegas 94, strawweights Amanda Lemos and Virna Jandiroba faced off on Saturday night. After an evenly matched first round, Jandiroba secured a dramatic submission victory in the second round, just moments before the bell.

Fight Summary:

  • First Round: The opening round was highly competitive, with both fighters showcasing their skills and maintaining a close contest.
  • Second Round: In the final seconds of the second round, Jandiroba managed to secure a submission, forcing Lemos to tap out. The win marks an impressive fourth consecutive victory for Jandiroba.

Post-Fight Remarks:

  • In her post-fight interview inside the Octagon, Jandiroba confidently called out UFC President Dana White, declaring, “Dana, I’m the next one. Dana, I’m your next champion.”

Future Implications:

  • With this victory, Jandiroba has positioned herself as a strong contender for the strawweight title. Tatiana Suarez, who was the rightful next contender for Weili Zhang, has been sidelined due to an injury. Jandiroba’s current four-fight win streak and her dominant performance at UFC Vegas 94 make a compelling case for her title shot.

Stay tuned for more updates as the UFC strawweight division continues to evolve, and see if Virna Jandiroba will indeed become the next challenger for the championship belt.

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Jake Paul vs. Mike Perry: Fight Night Updates



Jake Paul is back in the ring, and he’s promising fireworks as he takes on former UFC star Mike Perry at the Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. The fight will be broadcast live on DAZN. Originally, Paul was set to fight Mike Tyson, but Perry stepped in after Tyson suffered an injury.

Fight Details:

Jake Paul (9-1, 6 KOs)

  • Paul is coming off a first-round TKO of Ryan Bourland in March.
  • He has promised that Perry won’t survive the second round.
  • Paul is more experienced in boxing but still relatively new to the sport.

Mike Perry (0-1)

  • Perry, known as “Platinum,” brings over a decade of fighting experience, mainly in MMA and bare-knuckle fighting.
  • He believes Paul is still green in the fight business and intends to use his experience to pull off an upset.

Main Event:
Jake Paul vs. Mike Perry

Live Updates: Follow DAZN for all the live updates, results, and highlights from the Paul vs. Perry pay-per-view main card.

Main Card Results:

Amanda Serrano def. Stevie Morgan via TKO

  • Round 2, 0:38
    • Watch the finish

Lucas Bahdi def. H20 Sylve via knockout

  • Round 6, 2:27
    • Watch the finish

Corey Marksman def. Tony Aguilar via majority decision

  • Scores: 76-76, 77-75, 78-74

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. def. Uriah Hall via unanimous decision

  • Scores: 59-55, 59-55, 58-56
    • Recap

Stay tuned for the main event updates and see if Jake Paul can deliver on his promise of another highlight reel knockout or if Mike Perry will teach him a lesson and pull off a major upset.

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