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Oilers 5, Capitals 2 -- Player gradings

I have offered to assist in David Staples' latest project over at Cult of Hockey, namely to grade the Oilers' players on a game-by-game basis. This is a collective effort, I'm just one member of a team of markers.

The scoring system is as follows: 10, perfect game; 9, extraordinary game; 8, great game; 7, good game; 6, above average game; 5, average game; 4, below average game; 3, bad game; 2, terrible game; 1, trade this player or send him to the minors.


Oilers picked a good time to take on the Caps, a strong team that has struggled in recent days. The key was surviving a first-period onslaught, in which the Oil were outshot 19-9 but emerged with a 2-0 lead. The club responded with two strong periods and were arguably the better team on the night despite being on the short end of the shot clock.

Ladislav Smid - 6: 3 hits, 2 blocked shots, +1, and nothing negative on the game sheet. Played much of his 15:31 in Oilers' zone (Corsi +7/-17) but soaked up the pressure and played with composure.

Shawn Horcoff - 7: Workhorse played through the flu, posting by far the greatest ice time of any forward (22:45) including tough minutes against Ovechkin's line and on the PK. Not much on the scoreboard but worked his tail off all night.

Andrew Cogliano - 6: His speed and effort were top-notch as usual, and he was a handful in the offensive zone in the second half of the game. Continues to have issues with faceoffs (2-4, 33%) and defensive zone coverage.

Ethan Moreau - 5: Was on the ice for both Washington goals and zero for the good guys. Did contribute to a solid PK unit until the meaningless late GA. Corsi number at evens was -12 as his line with Cogliano and Pouliot struggled to get it going.

Ryan Potulny - 6: Making the most of his Oilers audition, with lots of positive results in 9:05 TOI tonight: 1 shot, 1 hit, 1 takeaway, 1 assist, +1. One of the few Oilers to have a positive shot differential (+4/-2) on the night. Now has a Schremp-like 3 assists in his first 2 games.

Steve Staios - 7: Has reprised the Steady Steve role in a nice stretch of recent games after a prolonged difficult start to the season. His Corsi number of -12 on the night suggests he didn't do much to get the puck moving in the right direction, but was a warrior in our zone with 5 blocked shots, including a couple of wicked blasts off the stick of Ovechkin. A solid 5:00 on the PK earned him the extra mark over his partner Smid. Even drew 3 penalties.

Erik Cole - 9: Had an extraordinary game, netting the hat trick and leading the Oilers in shots (5), attempted shots (8), and even takeaways (2) as he busted his butt on the backcheck all night. Drew a penalty, had a hit, blocked a shot, even won his only faceoff. Skated miles, many of them with the puck. Has been Oilers' best player since Hemsky went down.

Dustin Penner - 5: Another so-so performance. His 11:52 TOI was barely half of what his linemate Horcoff posted, suggesting MacT wasn't impressed either. Did provide the screen of a Souray PP bomb which resulted in Cole's goal on the rebound, and provided some strong board work at times.

Steve MacIntyre - 6: His usual services weren't required on this night, but he avoided the defensive zone gaffes that ruined his last game, and did manage to score his first NHL goal on a screened snapper that fooled Theodore. Earns a bonus point for that.

Dwayne Roloson - 8: Earned his high mark in the game's opening 9 minutes, when Oilers were outshot 12-3 and outchanced 8-1. The vet held the Caps off the board during that onslaught, discouraging

Denis Grebeshkov - 7: Had a strong game, as has been his norm since being paired with Lubo Visnovsky. On a night where the Oilers were outchanced 19-13 at evens, Edmonton had a 9-4 edge with Grebeshkov on the ice, meaning 4-15 against when he was on the bench. Played a solid 21:43 including over 3½ minutes on each special team. This guy is developing nicely.

Sheldon Souray - 7: Drew the primary assignment against Ovechkin who was held off the scoresheet. Had an unflattering Corsi of -7 but fired 3 shots himself, one of which led to Cole's rebound goal on the powerplay. He and Smid were the only Oilers with more than 1 hit on the night (3 each).

Kyle Brodziak - 7: Had an eventful night, posting a whopping +4 in just 9:48 at evens. Oilers generated just 5 shots in that time, but 4 of them found twine. Brodziak's hard forecheck set the stage for MacIntyre's icebreaker, made a fine interception and pass to assist on Brule's eventual game-winner, and also had the primary assist on Cole's clincher that gave the Oil a 3-goal lead for most of the third. Had a strong night on the PK, with the exception of a careless high-sticking penalty that put the club two men down late in the first. Kyle's teammates bailed him out that time. 3 blocked shots.

Gilbert Brule - 6: Scored the game winner on his only shot (a nifty deke) and made a strong play to get the puck to the point on MacIntyre's goal. Took two bad penalties in the offensive zone, and was less than entirely reliable with the puck. Overall another strong game as he makes his case for permanent employment.

Lubomir Visnovsky - 7: Along with his partner Grebeshkov, kept the puck moving north all night. 2 shots, 2 blocks, an assist, +1. Did get burned by Fleishmann one-on-one, likely earning Staples' primary error on the Caps' first goal.

Tom Gilbert - 5: Recovered from a horrid first period to make a solid contribution down the stretch. Had a horrendous giveaway 20 seconds in where Roli saved his bacon, made another bad pass right to Semin minutes later.

Marc Pouliot - 4: A very nondescript performance. Seemed to be having trouble handling the puck cleanly all night, generated nothing, and took a bad holding penalty behind the Washington net.

Liam Reddox - 5: A good effort with not much to show for it, which seems fairly typical for this young buck. Does get in hard on the forecheck but lacks the bulk to make much of an impact. -1 with a penalty.

Sam Gagner - 5: Played 18:10 with nothing at all to show for it: no shots, no points, no hits or takeaways, and just 4-8, 33% in the faceoff circle. Made one very nifty series of moves on one first-period rush, later made a careless giveaway off an own-zone faceoff that resulted in two point-blank shots for Ovechkin.