EDMONTON, ALBERTA – Can’t win ’em all, but this was an aggravating loss. Now it’s a series again, with an underdog team feeling good about itself again. To the grades:
Erik Johnson (A-) – I don’t give a crap what the fancystat crowd says – and they’ll probably say EJ had a bad game because of a 13-20 Corsi number. That’s why you shouldn’t listen to fancystat people too much in hockey. Most of them have never actually played the game – and that’s not an old man yelling at a cloud, it’s just the truth. EJ was a warrior today, blocking shots and making good plays in his own end.
Sam Girard (B-) – A better game for La Tornade after a bad Game 2, so that’s good. He had an assist and seemed OK with the puck. Yet, there were also a couple of instances where he was running around a bit in his own zone. Arizona is a tough forechecking team, and I think it’s put some pressure on him.
Cale Makar (B+) – How do I not give a guy who had a 54-10 Corsi number anything but an A? Well, because, when the game was truly on the line at the end today, Makar coughed up two pucks that led to two-empty-net Coyotes goals. Hey, full marks for Cale for having the puck on his stick constantly today. The problem was, he didn’t do anything tangibly productive with it. So it goes…
Ryan Graves (B) – I thought Gravy was real good today, but had some bad luck. He hit the post on one good offensive chance, and Kuemper came up large with a save on another. He had a 38-11 Corsi rating. That’s good. I’d like to see him be a bit more physical and aggravating against some smaller Coyotes forwards though.
Ian Cole (B) – Really, nothing to complain about with 28. A solid game. I’d like to see him get a little dirtier, but then again, if he does that and gets put into the penalty box, he’d probably get ripped for that too. It’s a fine line, but overall Cole was good today.
Nikita Zadorov (C) – We can argue all day whether or not Z had his stick held (he did) and losing it, and whether that was the deciding factor in him being on the ice and a bit slow to the play on Arizona’s critical second goal of the game, with 36 seconds left in the second period. I saw the whole play right in front of me, and I thought Z spent too much time looking at the ref and not enough time hustling back into the play.
Gabe Landeskog (C) – Great Corsi numbers, but see above. No goals still in the playoffs, and not enough of a disruptive influence in the offensive end.
Nathan MacKinnon (B) – A weird game for Nate. Two minor penalties, which is unlike him. But seven shots on goal and lots of buzz, like he said he’d have. I think he still needs to calm down a little bit mentally, though. He’s been great in the overall scheme, but the fact is he’s only got one goal in six postseason games. Just let the play come to you, kid, and the pucks will go in. Seems like he’s trying too hard, if that makes any sense.
Mikko Rantanen (C) – Got a lucky goal in the end, a shot that deflected off the skates of two Coyotes players. Otherwise, pretty much a non-factor in my eyes. Yeah, his line had the puck a lot, but the puck stayed out of the net. He’s been too passive on the power play, especially. Shoot the puck, kid.
Joonas Donskoi (C-) – He returned the lineup after a one-game absence, but he just didn’t have his kind of game today. Just wasn’t on the puck enough. A rough day, but I think he’ll bounce back.
Nazem Kadri (D) – Bad day for Naz. A turnover that helped lead to the first Arizona goal, and a late line-change with Landeskog that hung him out to try on the second Arizona goal. Hey, he’d been great to this point in the playoffs, so a bad day can be excused. But you only get so many in the playoffs.
Andre Burakovsky (B) – He scored the Avs’ first goal, and had good puck-possession numbers. Would I like to see him shoot the puck more? Yeah, because he’s got a great shot. Use it more.
Tyson Jost (C+) – Nice puck-possession numbers and four shots on net, but at the end of the day, zeroes on the scoresheet.
Valeri Nichushkin (D) – Just seems to have lost some of that offensive confidence he seemed to have before the shutdown. Let’s hope he hasn’t gone back into the Val who went almost 100 hundred games without scoring a goal. He may be dumped down on the lines for Game 4.
J.T. Compher (C+) – Lots of hustle, as always. But nothing on the sheet. And only won four-of-nine faceoffs.
Matt Nieto (A-) – I loved the fourth line today. He was one-third of that.
P.E. Bellemare (A) – Great game, tons of hard work and hustle and mojo. Let’s hope he can be rewarded with something on the scoresheet at some point.
Matt Calvert (A) – Grit and hustle and just a superb game for a fourth-liner.
Pavel Francouz (C) – Well, the other goalie faced 51 shots and Frankie faced 23. Yet, the other goalie won. That’s why Frankie gets the C and the other guy gets the A.