Edmonton Oilers is in a difficult position.
The team dropped 3-2 in the first round series with the Los Angeles Kings, and they would be without Nurse Darnell in Game 6 as he was suspended for one game for heading Phillip Danault.
Jay Woodcroft and Associates have a lot to think about between now and Thursday evening. How will they replace their best defender in the Bullion? And can they make more use of the team’s strikers by making some changes to the lines? Let’s move on to options…
The nurse leads all lube practitioners in time on the ice during five matches against the Kings. He scored 108:45 everything, and played 81:19 with equal power with an 8-4 goal difference on the ice. I think we all know how big a loss the Oilers will be and how difficult it is to move between the two teams.
The second Edmonton defender on the left side was Duncan Keith, expecting him to jump and score the double minutes that the nurse would probably not have handled ideally. Keith had a tough time in game five and seemed to be running late, especially in terms of his goal to win the Los Angeles game in overtime. He can be a very effective advocate as long as his workload is not many.
Probably the best option to play alongside Cody Ceci in Edmonton’s best pairing is Brett Kulak, who has been playing in the third pair so far. Kulak and Ceci have played well together this season in a limited sample, as the duo posted a 70-52 differential attempt on the ice over 53:49 together with equal power.
Kris Russell and Tyson Barrie are kind of a shaky third pairing, so one more thing to consider is calling Philip Broberg and going with 11 forwards and seven defensive tackles. Broberg has never played an NHL playoff, and that would certainly catapult him into the deep end, but his presence would give Woodcroft and Dave Manson more options to collect the blueline.
Broberg played for the Bakersfield Condors on Tuesday and the team is scheduled to play again on Wednesday. If the Oilers were to call him up for Game 6 in Los Angeles on Thursday, he certainly wouldn’t be in the Condors’ squad on Wednesday, as three games in three nights would be too much.
After scoring 14 goals in matches 2 and 3, the Oilers team steadily came out in successive matches and were able to score only four goals in matches 4 and 5.
Leon Drysittel, Kyler Yamamoto and Zach Hyman’s streak suffered a 4-0 loss in Game 4, with the Kings dominating them 15 to 6 in shot attempts over an 8:11 run of equal strength. Game 5 saw more mixers, with Draisaitl playing Hyman, Yamamoto, Ryan McLeod, Warren Foegele and Connor McDavid.
Although he scored two goals, one in the power game and one in short range, Draisaitl didn’t give his best showing in Game 5, as Oilers were in the red on 29-21 shooting attempts and they were. He excelled by a score of 3-0 when on the ice with equal strength. Draisatel’s best numbers came alongside McDavid and Yamamoto, as the trio racked up three high-risk chances over four minutes together.
With Draisaitl playing hard in back-to-back matches, it might be time for Woodcroft to consider playing him on the McDavid wing.
What do you say, nation? How do oil makers navigate during nurse suspension? Should they make some changes on the front lines to excite the team? Let’s know!