Oilers dominated by Blackhawks in Game One

The Edmonton Oilers wanted to start their series by getting fired up by winning. Instead, the Chicago Blackhawks taught them a lesson. By using their fast-paced forecheck and their shutdown defense the Hawks skated to an easy 6-4 win. The Oilers played a very sloppy game, they puck watched most of the game and seemed to be waiting for Chicago to make errors. The Oilers scored three of their four goals on the powerplay and turned the puck over countless times. The Oilers defense let the Hawks go through them for multiple 2 on 1 rushes. Even though the Oilers got a bit unlucky with three posts they did not deserve to win this game.

Player Grades:


Oilers Forwards

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – B+

It was a decent night for RNH. He finished -2 but was not at fault for any of the goals. Did well on the powerplay and finished with three points. Also had a good block early in the first.

Zack Kassian – B-

It was a very disappointing night for Zack. After a good exhibition game against Calgary Tuesday night he followed that up with a lackluster effort today. Didn’t noticed him in the 1st and 2nd periods and finished -3 with no shots and two hits. Zack had better step it up or else his spot beside Connor McDavid may be gone.

Leon Draisaitl – A-

Leon was the best Oilers skater by far as he finished with three points and +1. Draisaitl was moving his feet and could have had a couple more points if his linemates were able to finish. He also drew two penalties, one that led to a goal.

Connor McDavid – B+

McDavid Had a very good offensive game with one goal and two assists. He started it off with a powerplay snipe and added two more assists on a couple of other powerplays. However, he was horrible in the defensive end and had the most turnovers in the game, with three. One of his turnovers led to a second Toews goal. I’d much rather he be playing safe defensive hockey and score two points then the game he played today.

Kailer Yamamoto – B-

Very quiet game for Kailer he had two blocks and five hits. Yamamoto finished +1 but had zero SOG. He played good defensively but didn’t play his normal feisty offensive game. He had a chance for a tap in on a Draisaitl pass but just missed.

Tyler Ennis – C

Had a very rough game. Finished with zero SOG and two takeaways. Took a couple of bad penalties that cost the Oilers. Also went into concussion protocol for a high hit he took from Drake Caggulia but luckily he returned. He must up his game or else his spot will be taken.

Andreas Athanasiou – B

Despite only playing 8:37, Athanasiou showed some good speed and had some good drives to the net to create scoring chances for his teammates. He drew a penalty and may have a promotion to the top six soon.

Riley Sheahan and Josh Archibald – B-

Sheahan and Archibald both had a tough game on the penalty kill, of their 11:30 of ice time almost half of it was short-handed. They were out for all three of the Hawks’ powerplay goals. The penalty kill needs some work.

James Neal – B

Neal was average, even though he popped in a goal late, I was not impressed by his game. The playoff intensity was not there at all. A veteran leader like Neal needs to show some intensity, not skate like he’s pulling a 50-pound weight behind him.

Jujhar Khaira – B

Jujhar played an effective game today. He cycled the puck well and had two hits in 11 minutes of ice time. He finished the night by winning 50% of his faceoffs and had a good cycle to set up Chiasson for a post.

Alex Chiasson – A

Chaisson played an effective game today. He had two SOG and one post. Played 15 minutes altogether and played well on the powerplay. Chiasson’s hard work of puck retrieval and screening the goaltender lead to two goals for the Oilers.

Oilers Defense

Oscar Klefbom – B-

For Oscar, the bad outweighs the good. Despite having two points and doing some good work on the powerplay, Klefbom was off in the defensive end. He let multiple people past him for scoring chances and did not do well in the transition to the offensive zone. I expect Klefbom to step up in game two and have a better game.

Ethan Bear – B-

In 24 minutes of playing time, Bear had a mediocre game. He had a couple of bad pinches and couldn’t get the puck out of the zone at times. He also had three hits and three blocks. Hopefully, the playoff nerves are settled so we can see the confident Ethan Bear we usually see.

Adam Larsson – C

Larsson had a terrible game. He was daydreaming in the defensive end and wasn’t covering for his defense partner. He was caught in the corner on Toews’ first goal and finished the night with two hits and two giveaways in 17 minutes.

Darnell Nurse – B

It was a very eventful game for Darnell. He had five hits and took a slashing penalty that the Hawks scored on. Then, he showed us a new gear of speed none of us ever knew he had. He almost scored a goal on the rush and finished by playing 25 minutes of physical hockey.

Kris Russell – B+

He was the best Oilers defenseman with limited playing time. Russell had four shots and looked confident. This is the veteran playoff Russell we remember from 2017.

Matt Benning – B

Benning also did well with limited playing time. Took a tough penalty early but followed that up with a solid next two periods by shutting down Hawks forwards.

Oilers Goaltenders

Mike Smith – D

After Dave Tippett’s questionable decision to start Smith, he did not make his coach look smart. Smith did not seem ready to start the game and was fighting pucks and making bad passes. One that led to a momentum-changing goal. Dave Tippett pulled him way too late after the 5th goal and Smith does not deserve to start the next game. Even though some of his goals were not his fault you gotta make some key saves and Smith did not do that. Disappointing performance from the veteran.

Mikko Koskinen – A

After Mike Smith’s meltdown, Koskinen came in and very well. He stopped 18 shots and only let in 1 tough goal. He made several tough stops and looked calm. Expect him to start the next game.

Blackhawks Forwards

Patrick Kane – B+

As dominant as the Hawks were, Kane was not. He finished with one point and was really moving the puck well and had seven shots, including one that rang the iron.

Dominik Kubalik – A+

Wow. What a night for the rookie. In his first-ever NHL playoff game, Kubalik was the best player on the ice. Totalling five points, he seemed to get more comfortable every time he stepped on the ice. He only had 13 minutes of playing time but was dangerous for all of it. He had a couple of beautiful passes to set up Toews and had a nice snipe and tip on the powerplay.

Dylan Strome – B+

Strome was dangerous all night for the Blackhawks as he cashed in on a Mike Smith turnover early and was creating chances for the rest of the night.

Alexander Nylander – B

Nylander had a very quiet game. Zero points and two shots was his stat line. He made a smart play along the boards early to set up a Kane chance but otherwise, the Oilers shut him down.

Jonathan Toews – A

Primetime Toews has come back for the playoffs. He was amazing at both ends of the ice and finished with two goals and one assist. He also was dominant in the faceoff circle, winning 64% of his draws.

Alex DeBrincat

A frustrating game for DeBrincat. He had five shots, four of them from a good scoring area but no points. Otherwise, he was a smart player along the boards, making nifty passes to spring odd-man rushes.

Kirby Dach – B+

In his first playoff game, Dach looked calm, cool, and collected. He put up one point off a nice faceoff win and played good shutdown defense against Draisaitl’s line. A future star in the making.

Brandon Saad – A

Saad had a great game, finishing with two points but could have had more. He had a nice steal to set up a Hawks goal and had a nice deflection in front of the net. He also had five shots.

Drake Caggiula – B

A quiet game for Caggiula, who had four hits, one of them to the head of Tyler Ennis. That earned him a one-game suspension.

Ryan Carpenter, David Kampf, Matthew Highmore – B+

Despite not creating any offense, this group had a very good game. They were matched up against the McDavid line at even strength and shut him down. They did exactly what they were asked to do. Altogether they had 13 hits.

Blackhawks Defense

Calvin de Hann, Connor Murphy – B

I barely noticed these two but their job is to shut down the opposition and they did pretty well. Finished with eight hits.

Duncan Keith – A-

Keith returned to his old Norris Trophy-winning form Saturday afternoon by playing shutdown defense all game and adding two assists. Keith was very good at all ends of the ice, especially in transition where it seemed like the Oilers couldn’t touch him or the puck.

Adam Boqvist – B+

In his first playoff game, Boqvist looked like a veteran. He was zipping out passes in limited playing time, only 14mins, and getting three SOG.

Olli Maatta, Slater Koekkoek B+

They had a pretty good game. Pitched in with +1 and Maatta earned an assist. Moved the puck pretty well.

Blackhawks Goaltenders

Corey Crawford – B-

A bad game from Crawford was overshadowed by the big win by the Hawks. He didn’t really make any outstanding saves and he let in four goals. He may be a bit rusty.

The next game in this series is on Monday 8:30 MT. Expect the same Hawks lineup but changes in the Oilers lineup. Koskinen will probably get the start for the Oilers and Crawford is the starter for the Hawks. If the Hawks win this one there will be a real fear for Oilers fans. Don’t forget to look out for the next game recap!

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