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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.

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.

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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.

First Line

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.


    • Not a First Tier Fan

      The good news is that for as much as the OEG is raking in, it’s the whole downtown core that’s benefitting. According to something I read in the Journal yesterday, profits in downtown businesses are up 20% since the start of round one.

      Playoffs are good for the city and have been sorely missed. What the hell is wrong with Ottawa I have no idea. If the folks don’t fill the building tonight they should all turn in their Canadian citizenships…

  • @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.

  • 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

  • 24% body fat

    Guys we won a hard fought game. Deserve or not we are 2 games away from a conference final in which the oilers will have home ice. When is the last time that happened? Mean while over at flamesnation they are up in arms over finding a goalie and writing articles about how they hope bennett can become a solid 3rd line 30 point player. Meanwhile Draisaitl looks like a top 10 center in the nhl an puljijarvi is on his way. F#$k your couch ducks. F$%k your couch!

  • Ten Long Years

    Just read 26 pages of a game day thread on a Ducks forum. It was both entertaining and enlightening. In summary, they really hate (in no particular order) – Perry, Refs, McDavid, Sportsnet commentators, puck luck (they used this term ad nauseam).
    It was interesting to see how many of them feel the reffing is one sided in favour of the Oilers and they believe this bias is because they are playing a Canadian team.

  • Dobbler

    A quick note on goalies stealing games. The history of hockey is filled with great teams that had their goalies steal games for them. Having a goalie that can steal a game or two, here and there, is one of the SIGNS of a great team. I sure as hell hope that the rest of the Oilers don’t keep putting Talbot in that situation, but if he steals a few for the good guys, I’m totally fine with that.

    • 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.

  • 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.

    • madjam

      The problem with most long winning streaks is all the breaks you got to get there are usually going to opposition for next few games . Presto , Oilers now up 2-0 and Ducks have their down plucked . Should be interesting in game 3 to see if Ducks will change their back alley tactics for a more conventional skill game and try that to see if they can get back in this series . Doubt Ducks will get the preferential reffing calls in similar games in Edmonton .

  • 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

    • 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.

  • Been there

    Damn something has to be done with officiating soon, and not just this series. Be like baseball, if you call it one way for a team, be consistent and call it for both teams. And quit trying to give even number of penalties or late game phantom penalties to keep a game close just because. Call the game the way it should be, fairly.

  • Been there

    Kudos to JW for game wrap up! Same to BM!
    Personally I love reading different views of how the game went. Be boring if it was always the same. If you don’t appreciate a certain author/blogger don’t frigging read it!
    Now to give my liver a rest before tomorrow’s nights game!
    Go Oilers Go!

  • 7909

    Quick goal by sykera. Power play goal by big M, up 2-0. The oilers controlled the second period up to the half way point, with Mcdavid flying. It felt like a game that the oilers could put way out of reach. The turning point was the non call against mcdavid (because the oilers where up by 2 goals) then a debatable goalie interference call, that if anything should have just resulted in the goal called back. Anaheim gained traction in this game because of the ref’s. Shouldn’t games be called the same regardless of the score and situation? I don’t have problem with letting some infractions go, but call the game consistently. The ‘make up’ call, and calling the game based on the score is Bulls**t.

    • Play Dirty

      …fat fingers… Lindholm’s Camel Clutch on Maroon when a ref is right there is complete BS and detracts from the integrity of the game. And the fact that the Getzlaf / Kassian ‘holds’ were back to back and the less-flagarant one gets called??? I don’t know how you even defend the refs in that situation? Beer on.

    • 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!

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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!

  • Pouzar99

    I generally agree with JW’s assessment and grades but I would suggest that the outrageous non-call when Getzlaf calf-roped McD to the ice to prevent him from getting to the net, followed immediately by a very soft penalty to Kassian sparked a complete change in the game. After a poor first period the Oilers were playing well, up 2-0, with McDavid zooming in on the goalie when Getzlaf struck and the officials let it slide. The Duck power play didn’t score but they had great pressure which carried on until Nurse took his reckless penalty on which the Ducks almost immediately scored. The Ducks then took to the Oilers until the last 5 minutes of the game, which were tense but much more even. If the refs call the Getzlaf penalty the Oilers may score, but even if not they will likely continue playing well until the Ducks find a way to take back the initiative. The non-call, followed by Nurse’s careless penalty totally changed the momentum and flow of the game. We can never know for sure what would have happened if the right call was made, but we saw the immediate impact of the wrong call. The Oilers have gotten both good and bad calls, but the incredible inconsistency of the officials and there willingness to let players crosscheck opponents who are 40 feet from the puck and the net is an indefensible failure to enforce the rules reasonably. Is it asking to much to set a reasonable standard early on and apply it consistently throoughout the game? Apparently.