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Oilers vs Stars Round 3 Game 4

May 29, 2024, 6:58 PM ET [1 Comments]
Sean Maloughney
Edmonton Oilers Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
For what felt like the 10th time in these playoffs, the Edmonton Oilers started a game strong, took a commanding 2 goal lead and due to a combination of sitting back and some key defensive zone mistakes, found themselves quickly behind and struggling to find their way back into the game. In some of these instances, the Oilers have clawed their way back to win... this time they did not.

For starters let's talk about Darnell Nurse. We have spent long hours discussing the issues of Cody Ceci on this roster and those have not changed but now there is a red hot focus on Darnell Nurse and his struggles.

Nurse has 2 points in 15 games in these playoffs, is a -12, and most glaring has been on the ice for 18 5 on 5 goals against. The second most goals against by a defender is 12. Nurse has played the 4th most minutes at 5 on 5 among Oilers defenders and still he has been on for the most goals against.

Obviously not all of these goals are on Nurse but he has certainly been a factor on a number of them. Some of these goals have bounced off his skate and to another player or directly into the net which has happened far too often. Others have been due to Nurse failing to clear the zone when he has control. Many of these have been as a result of him conceding the zone and giving his opponent far too much space and time to make a play.

The 4th goal was not a great look for Stuart Skinner but that play doesn't even get to that point if Nurse is in a better position. Nurse is slow to pick up Robertson who retrieves the puck, then skates towards the net instead of the player, finally drops down to one knee, blocking a lane that does not exist. Nurse is a mobile player with a long reach, get a stick in the lane, try and disrupt the puck... something.

I don't blame the player for accepting the contract. Big money was placed on the table and no one is going to turn that down. Nurse isn't a #1 defenseman and luckily does not need to be with the emergence of Bouchard and Ekholm. However right now he isn't even playing like a top 4 defender.

The worst has been the post-game and pre-game interviews from the past 48 hours. Nurse has avoided blame and when asked reasonable questions by members of the media, has given short answers and walked away. This is a guy who wears a letter for this team. Face the music, admit your mistakes, and go out and play at a far smarter level.

We don't know the lineup for tonight's game but we do think that McLeod, Broberg, and Perry will be in while Foegele, Carrick, and Desharnais are taken out. I don't disagree with adding these players back into the lineup but I do have some issue with Desharnais being the guy taken out.

Desharnais has been excellent on the PK but sadly asked to try and be a top 4 defender alongside a struggling Darnell Nurse. Desharnais should be on the third pairing in more controlled minutes but Ceci has been far worse in that role. Tonight I would have much rather seen Ceci come out and slot Desharnais back on the third pairing.

It will be interesting to see how Knoblauch controls Broberg's minutes in this game. Broberg is a mobile player who is capable of transporting the puck out of the zone, something the Oilers lack on their blueline but he is coming in in an impossible situation against an opponent who smells blood and is trying to take a commanding 3-1 series lead.

Tonight is a do or die game for the Oilers. Tie the series and they have a fighting chance to stay in the series. Go down 3-1 and heading back to Dallas is certainly not a recipe for success. Expect a far better team performance from everyone tonight or this playoff run may be over.

Thanks for reading.
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