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G68: Oilers vs Senators - The Risks of Youth

March 14, 2023, 7:22 PM ET [27 Comments]
Sean Maloughney
Edmonton Oilers Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Oilers had a two goal lead against the Toronto Maple Leafs before a series of mistakes led to their demise. Rookie mistakes by rookie players... and Darnell Nurse. McLeod turned the puck over, Desharnais turned the puck over, and penalties abound turned a winnable game into a terrible downslide. Young players will make mistakes; that is unavoidable but especially at this time of year, those mistakes need to be minimized.

Overall I like most of what Woodcroft does. There will always be line decisions I will disagree with but for the most part I think he is an excellent coach. That being said I do think it was a major gaffe by JW to not call a timeout after the second goal against. The team was absolutely reeling at that point and the arena went from as quiet as a library to a roaring dome. The Oilers desperately needed to regroup, refocus and settle things down. Instead Nurse takes a penalty immediately after and on the ensuing PP the Leafs went up 4-3. A lesson should have been learned by all parties in that game.

Now the team turns to Ottawa hoping to get back on a winning track. This is a game the Oilers should win but only if they pay attention to the details. This could also be a much more feisty game than some would anticipate as the last time these two teams met it ended with the Senators goaltender Anton Forsberg out with two MCL tears. It was an unfortunate accident but the Senators surely have not forgotten and may be looking for blood or to get on the board early.

Skinner starts and no one should be surprised. The only question I have is when will Campbell get another start?

Ekholm and Bouchard work together so great and have become the Oilers most consistent duo and a very reliable top four pairing. I don't know what to do about the Nurse-Ceci pairing. Nurse's numbers are better away from Ceci... actually basically everyone does better away from Ceci than with him. The most likely options would be to put Kulak or Desharnais with Nurse. Desharnais is a natural righty but as the last game emphasized he can struggle under pressure. Kulak plays the left side but has played the right in the past when needed and could be a steady veteran presence that is more risk averse than Ceci.

I actually would be intrigued to see how Broberg does next to Nurse. Broberg can play either side and he skates well and would be able to skate with Nurse. Again the issue would be that as a young player Broberg is still prone to rookie mistakes. Woodcroft is trying to ice the lineup right now that can win the team the most games and will likely stick with his vets. I think there is merit in trying out different players with Nurse now, risk some mistakes if it means there is a chance to find a better option than Ceci on the top pairing.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the game!
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