Red Wings 1, Oilers 2
Edmonton Oilers finished work Friday night, badly. Or is this bear-ly?
Oil's youngest player, rookie Ethan Bear, scored an important goal in the second consecutive game, putting the home team ahead 2-0. This seemingly "safe" lead against a tired opponent was just enough when Detroit Red Wings cut the lead in half, kept fighting until the end and fell short of the game as the Oilers clung to a tough fight. -1 win.
The home team was the best team on paper and ice, beating Wings 37-26 and beating it 12-8 by Grade A Opportunitiesbut a combination of Jonathan Bernier's excellent goals and four, count four, Oilers, who touched the iron, kept the house loyal in nail biting until the final bell.
In fact, this was a game that could have been stolen by the hot goalkeeper in white except for the other padded blue man (-ish) who also performed strongly. That would be Mikko Koskinen, who was once again stellar in the Oilers' cage, making two big stops on the stretch while his teammates were caught in prolonged pursuit mode on two terribly long shifts. The big cork led the lead 2-1 to the end, improving the Oilers record to 7-1-0 and matching the hot start of 2016-17.
# 4 Kris Russell, 6. Led the team on ice with uniform force at 21:27. First active period with a dangerous throw in the traffic, a losing battle behind his net that led to serious pressure from Detroit, a very good move that left Athanasiou in a heap before Russell fed Kassian with a sharp breach and, then a penalty for cutting off the same Athanasiou who had been sent alone for a beautiful shell pass. Made a fantastic move to clear the zone in the final minutes. He blocked 4 kicks, including a critical kick (and beauty) of a dangerous central pass, which was the last significant act of the game.
# 15 Josh Archibald, 5. He played 8 minutes in low events, during which Red Wings had only 1 shot. Not much to do at the good end, but at least the record was there for the most part. Involved in 0 dangerous chances at each end.
# 16 Jujhar Khaira, 6. Much more engaged than he is late, fighting in the trenches and moving the puck effectively. He drew a penalty along the wall after his line with Sheahan and P.Russell dominated the cycle.
# 18 James Neal, 7. He made a strong quick throw and kicked, missing. He hit the iron in subsequent powerplay after an excellent four-way pass game from McDavid to RNH to Draisaitl from McDavid to Neal. Put the Oilers in front at the beginning of the second with a quick release of the high slot to convert a rebound. It remained an effective force in powerplay and forecheck. He had a few dubious moments in the defensive zone while his line chased for long periods; His last 8 shifts lasted over 50 seconds and 6 of them were over 65 years old.
# 19 Mikko Koskinen, 8. For all that the Oilers controlled the play earlier, he was sporadically called for a strong first period. He stopped sprinters Dylan Larkin and Andreas Athanasiou at several quick intervals and hit the stick with a dangerous chance from Anthony Mantha. He made several other stops in traffic, always in line with the discs, without rebounds. He made a fantastic move to deflect a deadly-looking pass through the blue paint just before hitting an enemy club. Defeated only by a slot shot that deflected a teammate (Jurco) and found the corner. He made a great save along the way when he stoned Trevor Daley in a well-designed Detroit move, then faced Larkin twice more in the closing minutes. 26 shots, 25 saves, 0.962 save percentage. Now 4-0-0, 2.20, 0.933 in the season.
23 – Riley Sheahan, 5. Beating and shredding along with his companions Khaira and P. Russell. Shot a heavy disc on the net after a good run. 6/12 = 50% at the point.
# 25 Darnell Nurse, 7. Activated offensively throughout, firing 5 team shots and earning secondary assists in both Edmonton goals. It moved the disc quite efficiently, avoiding problems on more than one occasion. He was among the culprits for Detroit's goal. He used his cane to advantage in Zone D, safely clearing some dangerous throws. Played 22:24 in all situations.
# 26 Brandon Manning, 5. He kept things simple, keeping the piece and the disc in front of him for the most part. Each team gathered only 3 shots for 12 quiet minutes.
# 29 Leon Draisaitl, 7. A game with 9 throwing attempts while taking the chances of a team with 6 A rating points. We will fly from dangerous places several times but have had trouble getting them (5 blocked). Closely lost in a spinnarama from a powerplay McDavid feed that is becoming a tandem move. I went into the slot with a great McDavid tip pass just to play a low shot from the barrel. Set Bear's goal by first protecting the disk in traffic and then feeding the point. He handed a pair of sumptuous cross-ice passages to the back of his blade. He increased his defensive play along the way, eliminating a Detroit race with a heavy blow to the back. At the last minute, with Detroit pushing 6v5, Draisaitl dropped a pass to clear the area, then pulled another disc out of the air and fed McDavid for what should have been easy. 7/10 = 70% on point.
# 39 Alex Chiasson, 6. You may have found a home in a line of veterans with NHR and Neal. Strong shot of the slot at the beginning of the game. Made a good run and backhand kick to test Bernier. He made a splendid play on goal 1-0 when he first won a disc battle along the side plates, got back to the point and headed to where his nurse's deflection of the point throw created the rebound Neal received. . Danny DeKeyser drilled with a clean, heavy blow. 3 shots, 2 hits, 1 block.
# 44 Zack Kassian, 7. An effective force, largely without the disc. He got 6 hits in the game, several of them getting hit. More importantly, he cast a heavy shadow over Bernier's goal, which simply would not have happened without this screen. He recorded a solid 18:24, most of which matched a little time in the second powerplay unit and none in the penalty, a role his previous coaches tried without much success. Dave Tippett apparently makes him play where he can make his club the best way, and Kassian is responding with excellent hockey.
# 52 Patrick Russell, 6. He played responsible two-way hockey, fought in the trenches and got some solid hits along the way. It touched the slot crossbar after a solo run. 2 shots and 1 heartbreaking miss when McDavid hit the post apparently made a friendly jump straight at him, but he staggered and he couldn't bury it at close range for what would be his first point in the NHL, not to mention the goal. That said, the fact that he is there at the last minute of the game defending a one-goal lead speaks volumes about his coach's confidence.
# 74 Ethan Bear, 7. Some more splendid work moving the disc in and out of its own end. He scored the 2-0 goal in a beautiful reverse move on the spot to change his shooting angle, followed by a laser-guided marker across the screen and a small area of exposed net. He was a 2-1 victim when he twice overcame the puck in his own territory, the second leading immediately to the goal kick. The only tiny thing that separated him from a rating of 8 and "great game"; as he was named the first star of the game as his launch party continues. He played 21:40, including one minute on each special team, as Tippett becomes increasingly dependent on him in every situation.
# 77 Oscar Klefbom, 5. Played a high-speed 24:54 game (exactly tied with Danny DeKeyser from Detroit) and recorded strong game flow numbers (65% of kicks). Moved the disk several times, but not without incident. His 5 giveaways were easily a high game, and he was victimized in Grade A 4 chances by Wings. We were happy once or twice floating around the defensive zone in search of the disc.
# 83 Matt Benning, 6. He played 15:01 in the third pair with Manning and did the job. 2 shots, 3 hits, 2 delivery and 0 noticeable lapses.
# 91 Gaetan Haas, 6. He returned to the lineup with some serious leap, either at forecheck deep in Detroit territory or clearing a loose disc behind his own net 200 feet away and starting the counterattack. He played just 7:22, when the Oilers beat Detroit 4-1. Haas offered strong support for the album and got 4 hits for good measure. 3/5 = 60% at the point.
# 92 Tomas Jurco, 5. Across the disc early on with three takeaways in the first period. Turned one of those into a dangerous shot from the crease's edge. He did a good job covering the pass lanes in his own area, but fell victim to the Detroit goal when Mike Green's shot deflected him and overtook Koskinen.
# 93 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 6. He left fast, riding his line mates, Chiasson and Neal, with quick passes early on. Then set Draisaitl in the powerplay slot. He made another smart move to mount Neal after drawing a pair of wings for him. Their line dominated the shooting actions, however, they had some prolonged turns stuck in their own zone at the end of the match. 7/15 = 47% on point.
# 97 Connor McDavid, 6. It had a lot of unit, but no finishing. He took the disc hard to the net a few times, but didn't have much space in the end because the Red Wings defended the front of the net reasonably well. He was robbed by Bernier on a number of occasions. With 6 chances from Oilers, only 1 against. He had what appeared to be a "gimme" in the empty net from within the offensive zone, but somehow hit the inside of the post, keeping the outcome of the game in doubt until literally his second final.
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