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Scenes from Morning Skate: Darnell Nurse not on the ice, Panthers’ flight delayed, and more

Edmonton Oilers practice at Rogers Place
Photo credit:Cam Lewis
Cam Lewis
1 month ago
The Stanley Cup Final has shifted to Edmonton.
The Florida Panthers took Games 1 and 2 and now the Oilers will look to bring themselves back into the series on home ice. Game 3 will come on Thursday and Game 4 will be played on Saturday.

Edmonton Oilers Line Combinations at Morning Skate

  • F1: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Connor McDavid – Zach Hyman
  • F2: Ryan McLeod – Leon Draisaitl – Dylan Holloway
  • F3: Mattias Janmark – Adam Henrique – Connor Brown
  • F4: Warren Foegele – Sam Carrick/Derek Ryan – Corey Perry
  • D1: Mattias Ekholm – Evan Bouchard
  • D2: Ben Gleason – Vincent Desharnais
  • D3: Brett Kulak – Philip Broberg
  • D4: Phil Kemp – Cody Ceci 
There were a couple of noticeable absences at Rogers Place as the Oilers took the ice for their morning skate on Wednesday.
Darnell Nurse didn’t practice and Ben Gleason filled his spot on the team’s second defensive pairing alongside Vincent Desharnais. Afterward, Kris Knoblauch spoke to the media and said that he isn’t worried about Nurse’s availability for Game 3 on Thursday. Given that Cody Ceci was playing next to Phil Kemp on the team’s extra defensive pairing, it seems he’ll be a healthy scratch again.
Evander Kane was on the ice at the beginning of practice but left following an extended conversation with Knoblauch. When speaking to the media, Knoblauch said that the team hasn’t decided yet whether Kane will be in the lineup for Game 3.
Last game, Kane suited up on Edmonton’s third line with Ryan McLeod down the middle and Warren Foegele on the right side. Both players were in different spots on Wednesday, as McLeod was moved to the left wing next to Leon Draisaitl and Dylan Holloway and Foegele moved to the fourth line with Corey Perry and both Sam Carrick and Derek Ryan working as the centre.

Words from head coach Kris Knoblauch following the skate

Though he’s coaching in the Stanley Cup as a rookie NHL head coach, you’d never know it based on the level of calmness Knoblauch brought to the podium following Wednesday’s practice. He noted that the team is taking things one game at a time, just as they did throughout the season and during the playoffs.
“We’ve been in tough situations and our mentality has been the same,” Knoblauch said. “Whether that was back in the regular season in Washington, against Vancouver and Dallas, just win the next game. Whether up or down, we’ve been able to think about winning the next game.”
He added that the players are cognizant of what’s on the line at this stage of the year. Knoblauch said that coaches need to be able to recognize what sort of leadership the players need at a given time, and, at this stage, he doesn’t want to put any added pressure on them.
“The coach always has to read the room on what the players need. Is it more direct, more casual? Each day is a little different,” Knoblauch said. “I think the players put enough pressure on themselves. It’s a little different when you’re playing in mid-February on a road trip, a coach often has to get the players’ attention. But right now, everyone knows what’s at stake. Right now, it isn’t as important to be the yelling and screaming coach. Everyone knows it’s a big game.”
The Oilers weren’t able to get a puck past Florida goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky in Game 1 despite doubling the Panthers in shots. In Game 2, the Panthers came back with a much stronger performance and earned a dominant 4-1 victory. Though much of the focus has been on how Edmonton has scored just once in two games, Knoblauch said that doing the little things will allow their skill to shine through.
“If you take care of the little details, things allow us to showcase our skill after,” Knoblauch said. “But if we aren’t playing fast, winning battles, nothing matters, that’s where the game starts and finishes. We have to make sure we’ve ready to compete and skate.” 

The Panthers are delayed in getting to Edmonton

A severe storm in the south of Florida has delayed the Panthers’ trip to Edmonton. As of the time of writing on Wednesday afternoon, the team still hasn’t left Florida.
The big news for Florida at their morning skate was that captain Aleksander Barkov returned to his regular spot as the team’s top-line centre. Barkov left Game 2 after being hit up high by Oilers’ forward Leon Draisaitl and it isn’t clear whether he’ll be available for the games in Edmonton.
Veteran winger Vladimir Tarasenko wasn’t on the ice, so Kyle Okposo jumped up into his usual spot on the third line and Nick Cousins was added to the fourth line. Evan Rodrigues, who has three goals for Florida in this series, was moved to the top line with Barkov and Sam Reinhart. He switched spots with Carter Verhaghe, who lined up alongside Sam Bennett and Matthew Tkachuk on the second line.

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