Player grades: Oilers gradually lose interest in regular season finale, fall 4-1 to Canucks

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Canucks 4, Oilers 1

Edmonton Oilers controlled Saturday afternoon’s game for extended stretches, peppering the Vancouver net with a variety of high end scoring chances. But they were unable to solve a red-hot Thatcher Demko, as the Canucks’ goaltender delivered a number of spectacular saves. Demko stopped everything he could see and more than one that he couldn’t as the Oilers delivered quality shots including about four breakaways.

The game was tied 1-1 halfway through the third before the Edmonton’s own goaltending came apart at the seams. Mikko Koskinen, solid to that point, suddenly wilted and allowed three goals in rapid succession, two of them of type “dubious”. And just like, poof, the game was gone. Vancouver held their 4-1 lead almost uncontested to the finish.

The Canucks did hold a 41-32 advantage in shots on goal, but the Oilers had a massive 16-6 edge in Grade A scoring chances, as per our own analysis here at the Cult of Hockey (running count). Simply put, Demko was the story.

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From the Oilers’ perspective, the major objective was to make it through the game without injury, which they apparently did. It was a significant game only for the handful of irregular players who got a final chance to impress the coaching staff before the playoffs. Overall, this graphic of 5v5 shot attempts from the essential NaturalStatTrick fairly represents the home team’s level of engagement as the game went along:

Speed version of the grades today, with one statement and one stat for each player.

Player grades

#6 Adam Larssson, 6. Scored the Oilers’ lone goal on an outside shot through a Puljujarvi screen. Key stat: played just 14:26 as Tippett and Jim Playfair rolled through a seven-man defensive unit.

#10 Joakim Nygard, 6. Played an industrious two-way game, hustling in all three zones. Key stat: Drew two Vancouver penalties.

#13 Jesse Puljujarvi, 6. His big-body screen played an essential role on Edmonton’s only goal. Key stat(s): 4 shot attempts, 4 hits, 3 blocks underscore his involvement in all aspects.

#15 Josh Archibald, 7. The best of the Oilers to these eyes, played an aggressive, hustling game that included two won races to negate icing calls. Key stat: 6 hits.

#16 Jujhar Khaira, 5. Played a decent two-way game with some excellent penalty-killing, though his inability to deal with Bouchard’s aerial clearing pass led directly to the killer 3-1 goal. Key stat: Took 17 faceoffs, the only Oiler in double digits (8/17=47%).

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#18 James Neal, 5. Decent effort, not a lot to show for it. Key stat: 21 shifts to co-lead the team; Tippett has certainly given him a chance to get his game going down the stretch.

#19 Mikko Koskinen, 4. Looked sharp from the outset, but wilted down the stretch. Key stat: stopped 34 of the first 35 shots he faced, but just 3 of the last 6 (.902 save percentage).

#20 Slater Koekkoek, 6. Played his first game since Feb 20 and was among the few Oilers who appeared genuinely pumped to be out there. Key stat: Played at least 2½ minutes with all four right-shot defencemen Edmonton dressed in this game as the coaching staff looked for a good fit.

#21 Dominik Kahun, 5. Involved in some decent passing sequences, largely on the perimeter. Key stat: Logged over 15 minutes for just the 6th time in 48 appearances as Tippett shared the wealth.

#22 Tyson Barrie, 4. Lost at sea as the lone man back on the 2-on-1 that resulted in Vancouver’s shorthanded, game-tying goal, and made a better door than window on the 4-1. Key stat: his 13:00 was his least TOi of the entire season save one game that he left in the first period.

#25 Darnell Nurse, 4. His poor zone coverage was a key factor in the 3-1 goal. Key stat: Blueline workhorse played over 20 minutes for the 56th consecutive game in 2021.

#29 Leon Draisaitl, 6. Strong offensive game with 8 shot attempts including 2 breakaways, but like his teammates couldn’t solve Demko. Key stat: Lost out as the NHL’s official +/- leader by one after being burned for a minus on each of his last two shifts of the season.

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#39 Alex Chiasson, 5. A central player in an extraordinary sequence that saw the Oilers somehow fail to cash three 10-bell powerplay chances within a few seconds. Key stat: For the third straight season, posted the best rate of Powerplay Goals For per 60 of any Oilers regular (minimum 60 minutes) at 12.04, better than one goal for every five minutes of ice time.

#70 Dmitry Kulikov, 4. Quiet beyond a first-minute tripping penalty, but spent too much time behind his own blueline. Key stat: On-ice shots were 4 for, 12 against during his 15 even-strength minutes.

#74 Ethan Bear, 5. Solid, low-event game. Key stat: chipped in on 2 Grade A chances for, maintained a clean sheet against.

#75 Evan Bouchard, 4. Showed flashes in the offensive end but struggled behind his own blueline, especially on a third-period shift that resulted in two Vancouver goals. Key stat: Vancouver averaged a shot per minute when Bouchard was on the ice (+7/-17 in 16:47).

#91 Gaetan Haas, 5. OK on the penalty kill, but at evens he struggled to make a clean play with the puck. Key stat: Righty went 5/9=56% on the dot, including 2/2 on the penalty kill.

#93 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 5. Absolutely robbed by Demko on at least two occasions, though his weak backcheck was an issue on the shorthanded goal against. Key stat: Logged 22:53 with an average shift of 1:12, easily the most on the Oilers in both departments.

#97 Connor McDavid, 6. Darted and dangled at times, central to 7 Oilers scoring chances capped by a clearcut breakaway, but couldn’t finish. Key stat: With an assist on the one Oilers goal, he upped his count to 105 points on just 183 Edmonton goals, or 57.4%. In the process passed Mario Lemieux’s unofficial record of earning a point on 57.3% of his team’s goals back in 1988-89.

Recently at the Cult of Hockey

McCURDY: 2021 Oilers first team in 35 years to accomplish rare scoring feat

STAPLES: McDavid sets his sights on Stanley Cup

McCURDY: Oilers face back-to-back playoff games

STAPLES: Oilers’ player grades from a second 4-3 OT win in Montreal

STAPLES: McDavid with one of most dominant seasons in NHL history

McCURDY: Oilers putting finishing touches on year to remember

LEAVINS: Player grades from Oilers’ 4-3 OT win in Montreal

Follow me on Twitter @BruceMcCurdy

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