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Oilers’ defenceman Philip Broberg has taken a step forward in these playoffs

Edmonton Oilers Philip Broberg
Photo credit:Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Liam Horrobin
29 days ago
There are endless bright spots from the Edmonton Oilers’ run to the Stanley Cup Final. How can there not be for a team that has brought its city back to the doorstep of hockey glory?
While many stood out throughout, the most recent and impactful is the emergence of Philip Broberg. A player whose future was up in the air earlier in the season is now playing top-four minutes in all situations.
“I just want to bring my strengths to the team,” said Broberg on his role with the Oilers. “I want to help the team in any way that I can, whether that’s skating with the puck or using my skating to defend.
“It’s been a bit of a roller-coaster year for myself. I’ve learned a lot on and off the ice and have grown as a person.”
Ahead of Game 4 versus the Dallas Stars, the fan base was wary of what Broberg could bring in a situation as pressure-filled as a Western Conference Final. Fair or not, there wasn’t much beforehand at the NHL level that would indicate that Broberg was ready for the big stage.
Due to his performance in Game 1, Broberg forced his way into the lineup, causing Kris Knoblauch to make the uncomfortable decision to sit Cody Ceci, who had never been healthy scratched by the Oilers. Broberg responded well, again, playing 17:55 and found himself on the ice for an offensive zone draw alongside Evan Bouchard and the Oilers’ star forwards Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Zach Hyman.
“You’re seeing the results of his preparation and hard work,” said Brett Kulak on Broberg’s play. “He’s scored some big goals for us and he’s strong defensively. He’s kind of the full package, really. It’s good to see his confidence and how his game has been evolving.”
“He’s got a role,” continued Kulak. “Whenever he’s been up, he’s been the seventh defenceman and he’d be the guy who’s not playing much. This is the most opportunity I’ve seen him get, and that’s where you get your confidence. You know your role, you’re playing regular shifts, and you’re able to build your game from that.”
Broberg’s ice time has swayed between 15 to 18 minutes throughout the Stanley Cup Final so far. He’s been elevated to a consistent top-four role with Darnell Nurse, who looked to have suffered an injury in Game 2, playing on his off-side. Minus a couple of wary moments here and there, it’s been consistent, steady play from the young Swedish defenceman, who looks like he’s been to the Stanley Cup Final multiple times in his career.
Nurse has become his most consistent partner in the Final, playing close to 30 minutes together at five-on-five. They’re outscoring their opponents 4 to 1, with each of them snapping a goal home themselves. The duo seems to have found chemistry, with Broberg getting more out of Nurse than most other defencemen have. The two of them have the third-best scoring chance percentage and the third-best goals for and against among the pairings that have played more than 15 minutes together.
“He was thrown into the fire in the Dallas series and, for the situation, he played really well,” said head coach Kris Knoblauch on Broberg’s play. “Since that game, he’s continued to get better and better.”
The question around Broberg was always how you fit him in the lineup. He’s a left shot and, with Mattias Ekholm, Darnell Nurse, and Brett Kulak occupying that side, his chances seemed limited. Now the conversation has turned the opposite way, with the future of other Oilers’ blueliners now in jeopardy.

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