EDMONTON, ALBERTA –
“I dug for oil, but the wells were empty”
Another WIN! One more, and it’s either New York or Tampa Bay to play for the Cup! The grades…
Jack Johnson: A- – He played a little over 5 minutes going into the third. At one point I thought I might have missed an injury because of how little he played. He finished with a little over 8 minutes and a minus one. But you know what? I thought he did a lot of things that didn’t show up on the scoresheet. He made some solid plays in his own end.
Bowen Byram: B+ – He played some big minutes tonight including time on the power play. The assist on Nichushkin’s first-period goal, brings his total to seven. I have to remind myself this is his first real playoff experience in the NHL.
Erik Johnson: B – He and Byram have been playing well still. Very complimentary hockey. He had a great sliding block early in the third to stop the Oilers rush.
Devon Toews: A- – Couple of assist tonight bringing his total to 12. He was defensively sound with Makar and they continue to shut down McDavid.
Cale Makar: A – This might be Makar best defensive series yet. Sprinkle in a couple of points throughout as well, he’s having himself a heck of a series.
Andrew Cogliano: B – His consistent play on the penalty kill is where we see him shine. He mans the point and gets his stick in the way.
Valeri Nichushkin: A+ – This was exactly what the Avs needed from him after Kadri went out early in the first. Big game from Big Val. He was robbed of what would have been a hat trick in the second period by an incredible pad stack from Smith.
Alex Newhook: B- – I thought he was forcing it a little tonight but he skated hard and fought for the puck all night.
Logan O’Connor: B- – Not much from the depth lines tonight. I love how he is involved or stands up for his teammates in post-whistle scrums.
Nathan MacKinnon: A – At one point he drove hard to the net and took three Oilers with him. The puck popped out and the Avs got a good chance. Those are things MacKinnon can do and not many others. Also…a plus-four tonight.
J.T. Compher: A – He had no idea he scored. What a play. He plays physically to get control of the puck and goes five-hole on Mike Smith. Hard work created that opportunity, coming out of the box and outmuscling his man. What a play (and, yes, it was a horrible goal allowed by Smith, but anyway..)
Josh Manson: B – He needed the first period to gain his footing it seemed like. He went hard into the boards in the third period but finished the game. He finished with almost 13 minutes and one shot on net. He’s one tough hombre.
Darren Helm: B – Similar to Cogliano, these guys look great on the penalty kill. I can’t imagine it being easy to stop Kane, McDavid and Draisaitl while down a man. Took a dirty cross-check at the end from Malone.
Artturi Lehkonen: A- – Another great performance forechecking. Lines were shuffled a little bit after Kadri went out. He was on the Oilers like white on rice and had a couple of HUGE blocks in the final minutes.
Nico Sturm: B- – This was his first game back since May 19th against the St. Louis Blues. He didn’t play horrible and took a few faceoffs winning 3 out of 4.
Nazem Kadri: NA – Took a hard cross-check from Kane less than five minutes into the game. Bednar confirmed after the game he will miss the rest of the series. What a shame if he can’t play in the Cup Finals. All because of Evander Kane, who…no comment.
Gabe Landeskog: B+ – Really impressive in the faceoff dot tonight going 85% other than that, it was a fairly quiet game from the Captain.
Mikko Rantanen: A+ – The puck was flying off his stick tonight. He had eight shots and a well-deserved empty netter. The effort and work he put in to block those last few shots are what true leaders do.
Pavel Francouz: B – He looked a little rattled after Connor McDavid scored on the first shot of the game. He probably wants the second goal back but he absolutely robbed McDavid on the power play midway through the third. It’s still Frankie’s net to lose right now I think.