The Toronto Maple Leafs whipped the Edmonton Oilers 6-1, giving Edmonton a lesson in how the modern NHL game is played.And it’s not played by slow, slow, slow forwards who lack skill. At least it’s not played that way with any success. Yet that’s what the Oilers have plentiful supply right now.It’s not a recipe for victory. It’s not a recipe to make the playoffs. It’s going to lead to more of the same.Connor McDavid, 3. Could never get going in this game, even as much was expected of him. About as quiet a game as I’ve seen from McDavid. The Leafs put John Tavares on him, instead of Nazem Kadri, but Tavares did the shadow job about as well as Kadri does it.Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 4. He gets a bonus mark for a goal, but otherwise a poor game from RNH, who could muster little in the way of support for McDavid. Was part of the sequence of pain on Toronto’s fifth goal, when he and other PKers got outworked.Sam Gagner, 3. Barely noticed him out there.Leon Draisaitl, 6. Scored a brilliant goal. Got burnt by Patrick Marleau on Toronto’s opening breakaway, foreshadowing what was to come this game.Tobias Rieder, 4. Had two Grade A shots on goal. He always hustles but almost never looks dangerous on the attack. Maybe time to give Cooper Marody a shot in his place.Alex Chiasson, 3. Slow, slow, slow, and he wasn’t physical this game either. Matches like this remind us why he was available for a PTO this past September.Zack Kassian, 4. Accomplished little on the ice, though he did take out the goalie on RNH’s goal.Brad Malone, 3. Slow, slow, slow. The Oilers need more skill in the line-up and Malone is a prime choice to be replaced.Kyle Brodziak, 3. Slow, slow, slow. Just one win in 11 faceoffs, which is supposed to be a strength. He’s not doing anything that merits him staying in the line up.Colby Cave, 7. He’s showing the right combination of smarts, skill and burning desire right now. Led a line that actually gave the Leafs some trouble. Got off two Grade A scoring chance shots.Milan Lucic, 7. Has found some chemistry with Cave and Currie. Please keep this line together. Lucic is working hard, playing tough and making plays, at least in this more limited role.Josh Currie, 7. He’s like Cave, a career minor leaguer with a bit of skill, a bit of grit and plenty to prove. In other words just the kind of player you want on your fourth line. Another good game with some good results, though no scoring in this one.
Edmonton Oilers centre Connor McDavid (97) takes a faceoff against Toronto Maple Leafs centre Auston Matthews (34) during first period NHL action in Toronto, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019.
Nathan Denette /
The Canadian Press
Oscar Klefbom, 2. He struggled in defensive zone coverage all game, making six major mistakes on Grade A scoring chances, three at even strength and three shorthanded. Made weak reads all game and wasn’t strong on the puck.Adam Larsson, 3. His play was almost as erratic as Klefbom’s play.Andrej Sekera, 6. A quiet game, where I only noticed him a few times when he made sweet passes. Continues to pass this latest comeback test.Matt Benning, 4. Got caught out as being slow to the net on the Leafs’ third goal. It was his only major mistake on a Grade A scoring chance, but it was a whopper and a dagger.Kris Russell, 3. He and Nurse struggled to move the puck all night.Darnell Nurse, 3. Lost a battle in the crease on the first Toronto goal, but that one was mostly on Koskinen, who lost control of the initial shot. He and Russell aren’t getting it done right now, as neither is a strong enough puck-mover to carry the duo.Mikko Koskinen, 3. At fault on a few goals against and failed to make many big saves. Not his night.Anthony Stollarz, 4. Was OK, but let in a couple of goals.At the Cult of HockeySTAPLES: Oilers GM job is a “five Aspirin headache” but McDavid will draw candidates, says NHL insiderSTAPLES: Larsson to Leafs rumour makes no sense