The Edmonton Oilers got good news this weekend, even if the news isn’t great. Defenseman Darnell Nurse left Friday’s game against the Colorado Avalanche during the second period and didn’t return in the third. Reports were he wasn’t making the road trip to play the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday and when asked about his injury status, head coach Jay Woodcroft didn’t offer much.
Defenceman Darnell Nurse did not join the Edmonton Oilers on their current two-game road swing through Columbus and Pittsburgh.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) April 24, 2022
What Woodcroft did say was, “We’ll see.”, when asked about Nurse being available for the playoffs. He added that the injury was believed to be “Nothing major”, even if he didn’t detail exactly what was wrong. Elliotte Friedman noted during his 32 Thoughts report on Saturday that it is expected Nurse will be back by the playoffs and possibly before. Maybe Woodcroft is just tempering expectations. Maybe the Oilers are taking a more cautious approach and resting their biggest-minute defenseman now that the postseason is locked in.
What matters is that Nurse’s injury, whatever it is, isn’t serious. His loss for a lengthy amount of time would be massive for the Oilers and it would send a ripple effect down the team’s left side. Duncan Keith will be asked to take on a bigger role, as will Brett Kulak. Kris Russell will play in the third pair and perhaps a player like Philip Broberg or Markus Niemelainen will get another look if healthy enough.
Darnell Nurse Edmonton Oilers defenseman
Kurt Leavins of the Edmonton Journal writes:
Just how close Nurse will be to 100% after the lower-body injury? Your guess is as good as mine. Getting a couple games off before the playoff grind begins would otherwise have been a good thing. I also continue to maintain that people do not give Darnell Nurse enough credit for the tough matchups that he faces night-in and night-out.
Nurse has been asked to sacrifice a bit of his offense under Woodcroft to be one of the key shutdown players, along with Cody Ceci. The Oilers have a tremendous record since the new coach took over and Nurse seems to have relished that role.
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