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Oilers’ Connor McDavid supports Darnell Nurse: ‘He gives us everything he’s got’

Edmonton Oilers Connor McDavid Darnell Nurse
Photo credit:Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
18 days ago
With the temperature ramping up in the playoffs for the Edmonton Oilers, so has it for their blue line and defenceman Darnell Nurse.
Amid struggles throughout the postseason that have seen him be on the ice for eight more goals against at five-on-five than the next closest defenceman, Oilers captain Connor McDavid came out as the second longest-tenured player on the roster.
When a question was posed to both McDavid and netminder Stuart Skinner during a Wednesday media availability, McDavid jumped in, saying “I’ll take that.”
“He’s a big piece of our room,” McDavid went on to say. “Plus-minus, whatever, I know it’s a funny stat, but he gives us everything he’s got, and he always has for a long time. Like I said, he’s a big part of our room, and I’d expect him to have a big one tonight.”
Drafted by the team seventh overall in the 2013 draft, the only player who has remained on the roster longer is that of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Nurse has appeared in 640 regular season games, scoring 76 goals and 267 points, adding another two goals and 15 points in 62 playoff games.
And while Nurse has taken much of the heat in recent days after getting caught out for two key Dallas Stars goals during Monday night’s Game 3, he isn’t the only defenceman who has struggled this post-season. He, Cody Ceci, and Vincent Desharnais all have five-on-five goal shares below 33.33 percent.
It’s put the team in a precarious spot, now looking to win Game 4 at home Wednesday night to even up the series.
It’s also prompted the coaching staff to make some lineup changes. Oilers head coach hinted during a Wednesday morning media availability that there would be changes in the lineup but that they wouldn’t be revealed until closer to game time.
Despite that, all of Warren Foegele, Sam Carrick and Desharnais were seen on the ice late Wednesday, hinting the three could be out of the lineup with Ryan McLeod, Corey Perry and Philip Broberg drawing into the lineup. Defenceman Troy Stecher, acquired by the team at the trade deadline, is out for the remainder of the year due to an ankle injury.
Through it all, the Oilers appear to be at a fork in the road when it comes to Nurse’s tenure with the team. So much so that on Wednesday, he appeared on Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli’s first trade targets list of the offseason, hinting that the club could look to move him and his $9.25-million contract.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@thenationnetwork.com.

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