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Photo Credit: Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports

GDB +8.0 Wrap Up: Cam Talbot propels the Oilers to a 2-0 series lead

Final score: Oilers of Edmonton 2, Ducks of Anaheim 1

This was a game played in bursts, at least on the Edmonton Oilers’ side. With the exception of goaltender Cam Talbot, who was great throughout, the lineup was consistently inconsistent.

They jumped out to an early 1-0 lead, then sat back and let the Ducks take the game to them for the rest of the first period. They reset at intermission, and came out strong in the second before again slumping after taking a 2-0 lead, finishing the period with a narrow 2-1 advantage.

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The malaise continued into the third period, as with a few exceptions Anaheim continued to push Edmonton hard, collecting two goal posts and forcing Cam Talbot to make a lot of good saves. Fortunately for the Oilers, Talbot was equal to the task.

The bottom line, though, is that the ugly moments in this one don’t matter to the result. The result is a 2-1 Oilers win, and more importantly a 2-0 lead in this second round series. Now the Ducks have to win four of five remaining games in which Edmonton holds home ice advantage.

The Oilers are only halfway through this series, but they’ve given themselves a massive advantage.

Since I don’t normally get a chance to do the postgame write-up, I’m going to take this opportunity to depart from our traditional approach, and instead steal a page from David Staples and the Cult of Hockey. The following are game grades for every player in this one.

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First Line

LW Patrick Maroon, B. Maroon played a better game tonight than he has in a while, but some of that was simply a byproduct of McDavid’s improved play. Not attributable to McDavid: the 2-0 goal that he redirected as part of Edmonton’s second power play unit.

C Connor McDavid, B+. This was probably the best game McDavid has played in the postseason yet. He played on different lines early and looked dangerous, creating several brilliant chances and drawing penalties (some of which the referees even called). The only thing missing was execution.

RW Leon Draisaitl, B. Draisaitl has been an impact player since midway through the first round, and while he took a backseat to McDavid in some ways he still had a strong night. He hit a crossbar, made a bunch of lovely passes, and played a nasty, gritty game along the boards in both zones.

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Second Line

LW Milan Lucic, C-. On a night where his linemates were going pretty well with the puck, Lucic seemed out of sorts, misfiring on several passes. A third period turnover to Cam Fowler, in particular, nearly cost Edmonton the game. Even when he isn’t clicking at 100 percent, though, he’s still 6’3” and 230-odd pounds, which comes in handy along the boards in games against Anaheim.

C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C. Nuge had some jump in an uneven night. He was good on special teams; he was a workhorse on the penalty kill and had one of the prettiest second assists you’ll even see on the Oilers’ 2-0 power play goal. Even-strength was a different matter; he got burned badly by Andrew Cogliano early and this whole line was taken to the woodshed by Getzlaf and Co.

RW Jordan Eberle, C. There was a time when Eberle was a pretty dynamic presence on the power play, and tonight was one of those games where he reminded Oilers fans of his skill level, playing a critical role in Edmonton’s 2-0 goal. He had some tough minutes at evens, and was part of some tough moments against.

Third Line

LW Drake Caggiula, B-. The best play from Caggiula in this game was also the play that ended his night. He showcased his speed, blowing past defenceman Shea Theodore and driving hard to the Ducks net, but then went even harder into the end boards. He was playing decent two-way hockey before exiting the game.

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C Mark Letestu, C-. Letestu negated a goal and took a penalty late in the first period, knocking defenceman Brandon Montour into his goaltender and sending both sprawling. He had a rare off night in the faceoff circle, too.

RW Zack Kassian, C+. Mr. Disallowed Goal had yet another one taken away from him late in the first period after Letestu bowled Montour into the goalie. He both drew a penalty and took a penalty, with the key distinction between the two being that Edmonton scored on their opportunity and the Ducks failed to do so on there’s.

Fourth Line

LW Benoit Pouliot, B-. It was a frustrating night for Pouliot early, as he just seemed a little bit off with the puck, but he picked it up as the game went on. He showed some jump on special teams, driving to the net on Edmonton’s 2-0 goal and working hard in the defensive zone on the penalty kill. He also drew two penalties for the Oilers.

C David Desharnais, C+. Desharnais didn’t show very well in the early going, and ended up playing extremely little over 40 minutes as the Oilers moved to three lines after Caggiula got hurt. He looked fresh and energetic when he got back into things in the third period.

RW Anton Slepyshev, C+. Slepyshev had a good look in the opening minutes of the game, putting the puck just wide during a rare shift with McDavid. Perhaps that should read as a rare shift, period; he suffered the same fate as Caggiula through the first two periods. As with Desharnais, he looked good when he got some opportunities.

First Pairing

LD Oscar Klefbom, B-. This pairing was mostly good, give or take a few of their shifts against Ryan Getzlaf. Klefbom generally excels when the pace is high and that was broadly true tonight, though at points he had trouble making the puck do the things he wanted it to do.

RD Adam Larsson, C+. Larsson isn’t quite as comfortable as Klefbom in high-speed situations, but again outside of the Getzlaf minutes there wasn’t much to complain about here. He had a couple of tough moments with the puck but generally did well with those nasty defensive zone battles.

Second Pairing

LD Andrej Sekera, C. Sekera scored Edmonton’s 1-0 goal, wiring the puck top corner from a miserable angle; John Gibson probably should have had it but Sekera deserves credit for making life hard for the goalie. He had some trouble moving the puck at later points in the game and was the Oiler most obviously at fault on Jakob Silfverberg’s goal.

RD Kris Russell, C. Russell looked especially bad in the first period, as he was the Oilers defenceman most obviously struggling with Anaheim’s speed. He was good on the penalty kill, but too often played 5-on-5 hockey like the Oilers were down a man, settling for clears over passes and backing in at the defensive blue line. He did make some key defensive plays in the third period.

Third Pairing

LD Darnell Nurse, C-. Nurse was in the penalty box after a needless high-sticking call when Anaheim scored its goal, a goal which injected some life into the team in the second period. He was pretty good with the puck, but decidedly erratic without it. Of note: He may have been playing injured in the back half of the game after an awkward hit by Ryan Getzlaf.

RD Matt Benning, C. Benning does a lot of things well, but matched against Anaheim’s size and speed in the defensive zone he at times looked wanting. He was a lot better in the other two zones.

Goaltender & Coach

G Cam Talbot, A. Talbot was tested on his very first shot of the game, a point blank chance for Andrew Cogliano, and turned it aside with apparent ease. The saves wouldn’t always look so easy, but with a sole exception Talbot was the equal of Anaheim’s chances. Goaltending made the difference in this one.

Todd McLellan, A-. I liked a lot of what McLellan did tonight. His early shuffling of McDavid to random lines put a wrench in Randy Carlyle’s matchup plans, and later in the game he mixed and matched his 11 healthy forwards to good effect, taking advantage of the strengths of Desharnais and Slepyshev. The Oilers sat back too much at points, but always found a way to right the ship.

The Bottom Line: Edmonton took an early lead, and spent too much of the game hanging on for dear life. But as much as it was a near-run thing at points, the Oilers did manage to hang on to that lead and are now in firm control of this series as it shifts back to Alberta.



    • Been there

      Good to see you back. How’s the fortune telling business going? Your predictions?
      Well at least like most Flames fans you always have excuses to fall back on! Sure hope you are picking the Ducks tomorrow night, keeping ours and your streak alive!
      Go Boner Go!

    • GPMUDDER

      We’ll take puck luck all the way to the finals if that’s what will get us there.
      Your attempt at trash talk is weak. Now go away and play with your bone.

    • Been there

      Have you ever played the game, or had someone explain the game to you? Puck luck is not only a part of the game but what all teams try and create. Screening a goalie, drive to the net so it bounces off someone. A great save when needed or a bounce off a crossbar or post. Have you ever listened to any coach in a press conference after a game? Puck luck is a part of every game. No series or championship is ever won without puck luck. Try taking hockey class 101 before commenting on something you know nothing about, it might save you embarrassing yourself again and again.

    • theJason

      Hey bone, you often talk about luck… is it because you are unlucky? I can imagine it’s tough to get lucky if you live in your moms basement. You gotta be good to be lucky and the Oilers are good!

    • 3 Little Birds

      Can you remind me of your last post that wasn’t trashing one of the writers? Not being a d!ck, just curious. Didn’t you take a healthy run at BM the other day?

      • BringitbacklikeSlats

        I’ve positively commented on many fine articles and posts on here over the last two years.
        But when some writers on here use this platform to push their own agenda with no shame, skewering Player’s bleeding and gutting out wins for this incredible team and town… well that is simply to much Sir. Someone needs to stand up and say it’s a load of crap and we’re not buying it anymore. Gregor and Staples wrote articles that debunk the whole useless Corsi theorem, yet they keep to it. No one is safe, no matter what unless it doesn’t fit into the tidy little package of crap they’re trying to write about that particular week. Kris Russell, Adam Larsson, Drake Cagiula, and Reg Sekera are doing more for my birth city and beloved team than these know it all writers who base everything they write off of bunk math in the hopes that some glorious day some smart GM or editor at SI will come calling asking them for their adept input into how the view the game of hockey.
        The self servers of this ideology can ban me if they like I don’t care. It’s BS, and I’ll keep calling them on it.

  • Petrolero

    Love that they win but man lucic was brutal. By my count he had 6 giveaways that ended up in extended offensive zone time for the ducks. But then heales the perfect play in the last minute to protect the lead and I’m like loooch!! Such a game this was.

    • Reinman

      I like what Chia has done with the team, but I am not sure the Lucic signing was the best thing for the Oilers. I mean, he did it for sure, because it was like, well no Hall, but look we got Lucic. But going forward, we are going to regret that 6 million a year. I mean, would we been that much further behind if we didn’t have Lucic on the team at all? Maroon, Kass, Larsson, and Talbot were great moves. I never minded trading Taylor Hall. Reinhart, Lucic, were not nearly as good. Lucic type deals are exactly what you need to stay away from to be a long term successful GM. We have enough depth and prospects in the system, we did not need Lucic.

      • Tombstone

        I didn’t know you paid Lucic his salary. In fact what business is it if yours what Lucic makes per year. I guess you think you own emergency personal workers because your taxes pay their wages.
        Lucic makes the Oilers a tougher and more competitive hockey team where player aren’t getting injured over cheap shots. And better hockey teams can sign players for less so I guess it all works out in the end.

        • srelio

          I would think this would be obvious but hes mentioning it because looches salary effects the salary cap and how much the oilers can spend on other players in the future. Plus where did he imply “you own emergency personal workers because your taxes pay their wages”. Dont just make up some random crap to insult someone.

      • Mitch92

        Looch was brought in to play with Connor but the marriage of convenience was not to last as Looch and CMD were unable to develop any chemistry. I look forward to a top line of Maroon, McDavid and Puljujarvi. Then the Oil can run CMD, RNH, Dr. Drai and Letestu down the middle while letting Desharnais walk as a UFA.

      • BlueHairedApe

        The reasons Lucic was brought in was toughness and the fact he scores 50 plus points per year consistently. Having played competitive hockey myself I’ve seen the effects these type of players can have on a team. The calming influence and confidence building in a dressing room can’t be measured by stats but everyone can see how much better the Oilers are able to play with this guy on the team. And how the other teams take a step back when Lucic is watching over them. Chris Pronger had the same effect and how did we do after he left? The Oilers would simply not be where they’re at without him.

  • @S_2_H

    Geez tough crowd huh Willis. You got the full-on Matt Henderson treatment on this one! I don’t think your grading was horrible, and the article certainly wasn’t heavy on advanced-stats. I think you’re just getting a dose of the fierce (nay blind) loyalty of this fan base. We’ve been reading the bagged milk yay Oilers, boo everyone else propaganda after games for so long that any objective writing is like a punch in the junk to some diehard fans. I love bagged milks’ style, but I don’t read him to be enlightened about hockey – I read him for a laugh and some Oilers love, and he’s basically made the wrap-up a safe place for Oilers fans and players alike. So I guess my only criticism to JW on this one is – know your audience, or maybe politely decline the next time they ask you to fill in – pretty sure there’s a couple interns kicking around who are better suited for GDB wraps.

    • Anton CP

      The way you rated the Oilers’ blueliners like that they got blown out by the Ducks, clearly you can only see the bad play by Russell but not seeing the good ones like how he was more than willing to sacrifice his body to get in the shooting lane and the last play that he took a massive hit to clear the zone. Can you for once try not to be a hater?

    • BringitbacklikeSlats

      They all do that pray to the Corsi Rel god. It becomes revisionist history as soon as they get out their computer post game (or do they ever get off it?)
      Like his so called analysis of Russell not being able to keep up with the skating of the Duck tonight. Really???? But of course no mention of the body sacrifices all night, first pass out on the first goal, and a game saving clear in the dying seconds where he got crushed to make the play that very few Dmen would be able to simply because “he skates fast”.
      I’m so sick of all this bogus math that basically shows team possession numbers but does very little to convince me of anything else. The performance analytics that dig into every play like Staples does is a far better approach and actually means something. Willis’s lame and poor wrap up here tonight shows how incompetent he is. There was no time to analyze play so he just went to his magic Corsi and Fenwick bean counter and Sussex out his pass and fails. Worth less than nothing as it skews the Player’s performance in a misleading way. I can’t wait till the purveyors of this useless stat get outed for the crap they troll.

  • At first I thought the Oilers didn’t deserve the win and Talbot stole a game for them.

    Then I realized that the refs handed the game to the Ducks, and had the reffing been consistent, the game would’ve been closer.

    That’s all I want, consistency. If the refs are letting hooking and obstruction go, let it go for both teams. If they are letting players perform UFC style chokeholds on the Oilers, then allow the Oilers to do the same back rather than calling the Oilers for it.

    So credit to the Ducks for keeping on that pressure, but that’s not hard when you’re allowed to do anything you want and the other team, the Oilers, can’t even risk getting their stick up to waist level for fear of being called for hooking.

  • Slipknot 8

    @Willis

    A C average for RNH is criminal! Besides Talbot, RNH was arguable the best player out there for the Oilers! That was a massive shut down on the Getzlaf line! Played over 20 minutes and assisted on the GWG…I’m not sure what more you want in shutting down the other team’s best line!
    Oh, and he was one of the few players able to play both centre and wing after the Drake went down!
    Easy B to a B+ for the Nuge

  • boil-in-the-oil

    Thank you Glen Sather.
    Getting Talbot turned out to be a gift from the hockey gods.

    Jonathan, thank you for the player grades. I used to visit CoH after every single game to read their player grades (although I didn’t always agree with them), but the Journal in all its wisdom, suddenly gave me the boot saying I had reached my 10 free articles. I guess they don’t want anyone to see or read their advertiser’s ads, without paying. Remarkable.

    So, anyways . . .

    LET’S GO OILERS
    CLAP, CLAP, CLAPCLAPCLAP

  • Rebuild3.0

    i don’t get you guys clearly bagged milk asked jonathan to do him a favor and cover the wrap up and ur being jerks for no reason. thanks willis! i appreciate change sometimes

  • Oiler Al

    Talbot stood on his head and won a huge game for the Oilers. When you consider the lost face offs, shots against him and the zone time the Ducks had it was a miracle win. The boys up front owe him one and hope he has an easier game on Sunday.PS I liked and agree with the grading.

  • Stack Pad Save

    I thought that throughout the first and second period the Oilers controlled play and where the much better team. That non-penalty call really did change the momentum in the game. I cant wait until we see a play-off series between 2 Canadian team just to see if their is a change in riffing consistency. Even though it wrecks all my brackets I am now hoping the Oilers play Ottawa in the finals! Go Oilers!

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    it doesn’t matter whether or not the Oilers “deserved” to win or not, they found a way to do it and the Ducks didn’t simple as that ! and the reffing continues to be atrocious ! i have seen a lot of dirty play not be called and the choke on Maroon right in front of the blind pro wrestling referee is another example of it, although his eyes could have been elsewhere.

  • Dr. Merkwurdigliebe

    You have to have your goaltender steal a game or two in the playoffs, and Talby just did that tonight. Grab it and come out swinging Sunday in Edmonton!