Player grades: Oilers pour on the offence but forget defence, drop 6-5 barnburner to Jets in barnburner

Player grades: Oilers pour on the offence but forget defence, drop 6-5 barnburner to Jets in barnburner

Author of the article:

Bruce McCurdy  •  Edmonton Journal

Publishing date:

Feb 16, 2021  •  5 hours ago  •  10 minute read

Edmonton Oilers’ Jujhar Khaira (16) battles Winnipeg Jets’ Trevor Lewis (23) during first period NHL action at Rogers Place in Edmonton, on Monday, Feb. 15, 2021. Photo by Ian Kucerak /Postmedia

Jets 6, Oilers 5

Fresh off a road trip that saw them win three consecutive low-scoring games, the Edmonton Oilers returned home and proceeded to forget everything they learned about tidy play in their own end of the ice. Turnovers inside their own blueline burned them multiple times, including on all three tie-breaking goals the Winnipeg Jets scored, the last of which broke a 5-5 deadlock early in the final frame. For all the sweat energy the Oilers poured into overcoming what was at one point a three-goal deficit, all they had to show for it at night’s end was another regulation loss, their eighth of the season.

It was an old-fashioned barnburner, though one that had coach Dave Tippett forlornly talking more about mistakes that cost the Oilers than the good things that happened at the other end. His club poured it on for long stretches, outshooting the visitors by a whopping 45-24 and holding a 15-10 bulge in Grade A scoring chances as logged here at the Cult of Hockey (running count).

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By the numbers a key difference was goaltending, where one Winnipeg netminder, Connor Hellebuyck, made 40 saves, while two Edmonton stoppers combined for just 18 stops. Ouch.

Player grades

#6 Adam Larsson, 5. Played his heart out with some hard physical play, but went way out of position to nail Dylan DeMelo after the Jets defenceman had taken down Shore, and before you knew it the puck had gone from those left defensive boards to the Larsson’s side of the defensive slot to the back of the net. Was walked by the slippery Nikolaj Ehlers for a later chance. The Oilers outshot Winnipeg 13-7 during his 17 even-strength minutes.

#8 Kyle Turris, 3. Saw just 6: 53 of action, a season low, during which 4 goals were scored, 2 each way. Was not involved in either Oilers goal, both scored by Chiasson, but allowed a key pass on the one Winnipeg tally and a slot deflection on the other (respectively, the 4-1 and the 5-3). Recorded 0 individual stats of any type, unless you call 0% on the dot a “stat”. Rode the bench for all but 2 shifts in the final frame. After earlier playing his way off the penalty kill unit (5 goals against in just 23 minutes of action), he has now played just under 3 hours of even strength hockey during which time the Oilers have allowed 15 goals. Press box might be next, and even the waiver wire is not out of the question to facilitate such a move.

#13 Jesse Puljujarvi, 7. Played a strong two-way game, firing 8 shot attempts, 5 of them on goal. His best moment was a great cross-ice feed to RNH for the 5-5 goal. Played 17: 27 on the night but just a single 30-second shift in the final 6: 45, a somewhat mystifying deployment on a night the big Finn had the wheels going.

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#14 Devin Shore, 6. Made a great wall pass to spring Chiasson for the 1-1 goal. Taken down with what appeared to be a slewfoot by DeMelo on a sequence that led directly to the fourth Jets’ goal. Also took a Mathieu Perreault high stick to the noggin that went undetected on what was frankly an iffy night by the men in stripes.

#15 Josh Archibald, 6. Human torpedo was all over the place, nailing Jets at every opportunity. 6 official hits on the night including a couple of major wallops. Nearly buried one great pass from McDavid on the doorstep, then minutes later was part of a full out scrum in the Winnipeg crease that very nearly forced the puck over the goal line. A clean 1: 49 on the penalty kill.

#16 Jujhar Khaira, 6. He too was laying on the body, landing 8 official hits which is a season high for any Oiler, forward or d-man. Not credited with any shots, though he sure appeared to jam a super-dangerous shot from close range which was somehow repelled at the goal line. 7/13=54% on the dot and 1: 13 of strong penalty killing.

#19 Mikko Koskinen, 5. Came on early in the second to replace Smith and largely settled things down. Was beaten on two mid-air deflections from the slot and couldn’t really be blamed on either. That was enough to saddle the Finn with the official loss, despite the Oilers “winning” his part of the game 4-2. Made a couple of excellent stops. 13 shots, 11 saves, .846 save percentage.

#20 Slater Koekkoek, 4. On the ice for the first three Jets’ goals. Seemingly frozen in place on the third, when he played Mason Appelton’s one-on-one as if it were a two-on-one when the only other skater in the area was a backchecking Puljujarvi.

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#21 Dominik Kahun, 3. Made a terrific wall pass to Draisaitl for a Grade B chance on his first shift, but barely noticeable thereafter, at least in a good way. Zero shot attempts. Took a costly penalty — “two minutes for standing in a spot an opponent wanted to skate through”, I think was the call — that was converted into the game’s first goal. Shortly after the Oilers finally tied the game 5-5, he made a horrendous turnover at his own blueline that quickly ended up in the back of the net. Spent the remaining 13: 38 nailed to the bench.

#22 Tyson Barrie, 7. On a night the Oilers were reduced to five defenders early, he played a monstrous 30: 48, a season high for any Oiler. It’s not like the team had a bunch of powerplay time either, just 2: 44 on the night, meaning over 28 minutes for Barrie at even strength. Contributed 1 assist at each discipline. Despite his high-risk style, he made zero defensive blunders that led to major chances, indeed, he chipped in one sliding defensive play to put out a developing fire.  Took a penalty, drew a penalty.

#25 Darnell Nurse, 6. Involved early when he dropped the gloves with the mountainous Adam Lowry. Points for courage, I guess, even as his team needs Nurse on the ice, preferably with two working hands. He did return to play 27: 18. Made a great rush and pass to set up a splendid Puljujarvi chance. Burned on the third Jets goal when he left his position to take a run at Mark Scheifele, who slipped the puck through to Appleton who beat both Koekkoek and Smith on an angled rush. Minutes later his point shot was tipped home by Yamamoto to narrow the deficit to 4-3, Nurse’s 10th even strength point of the season, the most of any NHL defenceman. His stat line could be sung to the tune of A Partridge in a Pear Tree: 6 hits, 5 PiM, 4 shot attempts, 3 blocks, 2 giveaways, 1 assist.

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#29 Leon Draisaitl, 5. No points on the night as he has hit a bit of a Drai spell after matching last season’s hot start of 25 points through 14 games (that part of the hockey season formerly known as “October”). Oilers did control play on his watch, outshooting the Jets 13-3 during his 20 minutes at evens. Made a superb play to set the table for Yamamoto’s goal, gaining the zone with a hard rush and making a diagonal pass to find the trailer Barrie on the far point, though two other mates subsequently touched the puck. Made a great cross-seam pass to RNH for a powerplay drive that was repelled by Hellebuyck’s best save on the night. A few other good passes went to waste on a night his wingers were not clicking. 6 shot attempts of his own, though just 1 was on goal. Broke Lowry’s ankles twice on the same extended o-zone possession, once along either side wall. He was among those Oilers beaten in the continuation after Kahun’s fatal turnover, and made a bad mistake of his own in the defensive slot that Koskinen covered off. Got absolutely crushed by Neal Pionk in the final minute but made the play. Another strong night on the dot with 13/22=59%.

#39 Alex Chiasson, 8. Scored his first 2 goals of the season on a pair of terrific snipes. Slipped behind the defence to take Shore’s terrific lead pass at the blueline, burst in 2-on-1, looked off Hellebuyck before dinging a perfect shot off the short side post and in. Recovered a loose puck on the side boards, fed the point, then headed for the net front to take Ennis’ centring feed and beat Hellebuyck cleanly from the slot, top shelf. Involved in two other Oilers chances, both through his specialty of screening the goalie, and was similarly providing heavy shade when McDavid set up RNH for Edmonton’s last half-chance in the dying seconds.

#41 Mike Smith, 3. One game after everything went right in his 40th career shutout, the tables were turned on the veteran as Winnipeg snipers were hitting their shots. Had no chance at all on Scheifele’s perfect one-timer that opened the scoring; later was beaten cleanly on three slot shots that all found a hole. Those were the only 4 Grade A chances he faced, and they all went in. Got the mercy pull after the last of those, just 2: 31 into the middle frame. While much of the blame can and should be placed on some sbysmal defensive play in front of him, the Oilers really needed a save or two at some point. 11 shots, 7 saves, .636 save percentage.

#56 Kailer Yamamoto, 4. Made 3 nasty turnovers in the first period, 2 of which led directly to Jets’ goals and the other to a dangerous jailbreak. Got one of those goals back when he deftly tipped home Nurse’s point shot to narrow the gap to 4-3. That was his only shot attempt of the night. Nonetheless got massive shifts of 2: 13 and 2: 18 down the stretch as Tippett shortened his bench to an extreme degree, winding up with a season-high 21: 35. Did have 2 hits and blocked 2 more shots, to retake the lead among NHL forwards in that category with 25 blocks on the season.

#63 Tyler Ennis, 6. 2 shots, 4 hits, and a terrific assist on a slick feed to Chiasson in the slot. He got the push into Kahun’s spot down the stretch, at least in theory as Tippett went full blender.

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#75 Evan Bouchard, 7. Played his first career 20-minute game on the blueline, but definitely not his last. A menace in the offensive zone, where he fired a game-high 8 shots on goal with another 3 that (narrowly) missed the target. Equally a threat to pass, and earned 2 assists. Oilers dominated possession to the tune of 31-13 in shot attempts, 19-8 in shots on goal on his watch. Was victimized on the game winning goal when he was left to cover Blake Wheeler at the edge of the blue paint, on the wrong side of Wheeler’s massive frame to have any shot at taking away his stick, which tipped home the game winner on what was from Edmonton’s perspective a broken play.

#84 William Lagesson, 5. Played just 6: 47 before leaving the game with an undisclosed injury. Oilers missed his steady defensive presence.

#93 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 7. Broke out a 5-game goalless drought with a pair of snipes, one on the powerplay and the other a top-shelf rocket that tied the score 5-5 early in the third. Was absolutely stoned by Hellebuyck’s best save of the night on a powerplay one-timer that appeared to be a certain goal. Barely missed tipping one home in the dying seconds. Had 11 shot attempts on the night, 7 of them on goal, and added 2 hits and 2 takeaways. But he and Yamamoto were both beaten by the same cross-seam pass on Winnipeg’s powerplay goal when neither had his stick in the lane.

#97 Connor McDavid, 8. Another indomitable effort by Oilers’ guiding light, who skated miles and made things happen all night long in a whopping 26: 36 of ice time. Winnipeg did a good job of fending off his straight-on rushes without allowing a breakthrough, but that didn’t stop #97 from creating in multiple other ways. One fine example involved him twice bouncing the puck to himself off the back of the Jets goal frame to bamboozle a defender before threading a saucer pass to Puljujarvi in the slot. Fired 7 shots of his own. Made major contributions to 8 of the Oilers 15 Grade A scoring chances, earning a pair of assists to stretch his league leading totals to 21 apples and 30 points. He also kept a clean sheet at the defensive end, as Edmonton outshot Winnipeg 20-7 during his 24 minutes at even strength. Drew a penalty and could have drawn another seconds later. Got the better of Pionk in a heavy open-ice collision, and later mashed another Jets defender with a hard hit. Came within an ace of tying the game with a minute to go with a nifty move out of the corner and drive to the net front. His 5/12=42% on the dot was about the only item worthy of (very mild) criticism; the Oilers will win many more games than they lose on nights that McDavid plays at this level.

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