Edmonton Oilers Defenseman Darnell Nurse Must Keep His Game Simple

The Edmonton Oilers are looking to tie the Stanley Cup Final at 1-1 heading into Game 2, while the Florida Panthers are looking to take a 2-0 series lead. One of the adjustments the Oilers need to make heading into Game 2 is ensuring Darnell Nurse is playing within himself as a defenseman.

We know Nurse is a good defenseman. It is not his fault that the previous Oilers management paid him what they paid him. He is not a $9.25 million defenseman, but nobody would shy away from that money. But it also opens him up to criticism, fairly or unfairly.

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However, when Nurse is playing poorly, it is noticeable.  When he is good, he is a solid top-four defenseman in the League. This issue is that Darnell Nurse tries to do too much, gets himself out of position, and exploits the middle of the ice, causing goals to go into the net.

TSN Director of Scouting Craig Button appeared on Jay Onrait’s SportsCenter show and discussed how the pairing of Cody Ceci and Darnell Nurse hurt the Edmonton Oilers and how the Florida Panthers exposed them in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

** NHLRumors.com transcription

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Craig Button: “You’re always looking to find the soft underbelly of an opponent so the Florida Panthers are absolutely going to be trying to exploit it. I think Cody Ceci is being tagged along with the poor play of Darnell Nurse. Darnell Nurse is capable of being a pillar defenseman, he has not been anywhere close to his abilities and capabilities in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

So everybody goes Oh, Nurse Ceci. I mean, you look right here the front of the net is where you got to defend like, what are you looking at Darnell? (Craig explaining the Evan Rodrigues goal in Period 2 of Game 1). This has been a problem for Darnell these entire playoffs, and it doesn’t matter who has been playing with him. Darnell has been the constant and common denominator there. He’s capable. He’s so competitive. He wants to make a difference.

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And I think, at times he tries to do way too much. Just less is more. If I’m Kris Knoblauch and Paul Coffey more is less for Darnell. You don’t have to be chasing outside the dots to the board. Be aware. Just take a position and put a stake in the ice. Don’t be trying to move around everywhere. It’s like he wants to do five things on one shift.

And all he does is get himself in all kinds of, he creates more of his own problems than the problems that are presented to him. That’s where you got to get steady, stable and just get a little bit calmer in his play. If he does that there’ll be no problem. There’ll be no talk about it. But when he gets busy, he creates problems. For himself and the team.”

For the Oilers to succeed in Game 2, Darnell Nurse must play as he did in Games 4, 5, and 6 of the Western Conference Final against the Dallas Stars. He kept the game simple and played within himself and blocked a ton of shots.

That is the key to success for the Edmonton Oilers and Darnell Nurse in Game 2.