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Avs Round 3, Game 2 Grades: The art of defense

Evan Rawal Avatar
June 3, 2022

Nicolas Aube-Kubel – C-

As has been the case all postseason, no offense coming from Aube-Kubel (or that line for that matter). Had a big blocked shot in the second period, but also a really poor penalty. That’s one thing he simply cannot do.

Bowen Byram – A

I don’t know what else there is to say about Byram. He looks spectacular. Every time he has a chance, he’s jumping in and getting involved offensively. He continues to hold his own against the likes of McDavid and Draisaitl when matched up with them, and he saw a lot more of Draisaitl in game two.

Andrew Cogliano – B+

Took a big hit from McDavid in the first period but that’s not going to slow him down. A good game on the penalty kill, with some big moments at the end of the second period, and another good game at even strength.

J.T. Compher – C

Next to nothing offensively. Had a good look in the first period but the shot got blocked in front. He did play pretty solid defensively and made some smart, simple plays rather than getting too cute with the puck.

Pavel Francouz – A+

What else can you say? Brought in to start the game with an ailing starting netminder and pitches a shutout of his own. And made it look pretty easy, all things considered. He was swallowing shots from the point and not giving up any real second chance looks, which is something he has struggled with in the past. Great game.

Darren Helm – A

For the second time in three games, the opposition doesn’t register a shot on net with Helm on the ice at even strength. You can’t ask for more than that. Another great game and some good PK work.

Erik Johnson – B+

He got stuck with a bad pass in the first that resulted in a good look for Yamamoto, but another strong game. With the Oilers changing things up, spent a good bit of time against Draisaitl and held his own defensively.

Jack Johnson – C

Think he had one iffy shift in the first period, but beyond that, I didn’t even notice him, which is a big plus. Had the luck of being on the ice for only one Avs shot on net, which went in.

Nazem Kadri – A

That line decided to take over the game for a short span in the second period offensively and that’s all they needed. Even after his three primary assists, he had a great look in the slot later in the period that Smith had to make a nice save on. The only guy to finish positive in the face-off circle.

Gabriel Landeskog – B+

I didn’t see anything wrong with the hit on Yamomoto that Oilers fans seem unhappy about, as that’s just a good separation of a guy from the puck. Another great game defensively, as he and MacKinnon have been communicating pretty well with McDavid out there.

Artturi Lehkonen – A

This was his type of game, slowed down a little bit and a little bit more grind it out than game one was. He excelled at it. A good forecheck to help force some bad passes and then tips in the Kadri shot, but he’s really good with short passes in the offensive zone, and we saw that on the Manson goal.

Nathan MacKinnon – A

Nice to see him get one late because he was buzzing all night long and ended with 11 shots on net. He’s really working defensively, on top of what he’s doing offensively, and it’s helping the team out in a major way. No other team can match up against a McDavid like this but will be interesting to see what happens in Edmonton without the last change.

Cale Makar – A

We just have to talk about that poke check in the first period on McDavid. It’s not that nobody else can do that, it’s just that he skated backwards with the best skater in the world and didn’t panic for even a second. It looked way too smooth. He also had an incredible play on the PK at the start of the third period to chip a dump in straight out of the zone and kill the remaining time for the Oilers.

Josh Manson – B+

Huge bomb of a goal to help make up for that first game. Weird stuff just seems to happen to him in games, though. Still some sloppy turnovers, but more talking about when he was trying to break out in the second period and just skated into a random stick laying on the ice that caused a turnover. Huge shot block on an odd-man rush at the end of the second.

Alex Newhook – C

The only time I really noticed him was in a battle defensively with McDavid down low in the third period. He did have to play a lot down low as he took a fair bit of face-offs and lost most of them. Didn’t help provide any offensive spark for that line but they did okay defensively.

Valeri Nichushkin – B-

The weird turnovers on passes to the point keep happening, but it was a little better in game two. Had a nice hit on Draisaitl early in the game. The offense has kind of dried up a bit.

Logan O’Connor – A

Kind of crazy that he started the playoffs in the press box, and pretty sure he isn’t going back because he’s playing great. Had a nice steal in the neutral zone and forecheck soon after in the third period to kill more time.

Mikko Rantanen – A

If Mikko starts to get hot, the Avs look real good up front, because that line is starting to develop some chemistry. Short, quick passes in the offensive zone that are leading to offensive chances, much like the first goal in game two.

Devon Toews – A-

Had a perfect one on one play against McLeod in the second period where it looked like he might have been beat, but his longer stick saved the day with a perfect poke check. Had some rough clears again but not nearly as bad as game one. Top pair has held it down for two games.


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