The Edmonton Oilers shuffled their lineup at Monday’s practice in hopes to push the team back toward its winning culture. With these changes, defenceman Darnell Nurse found himself promoted to the top pairing, alongside Adam Larsson.
With his play to start the year, as well as the team’s struggles on defence, the 22-year-old has been the diamond in the rough so far for the Oilers. And ultimately, his hard work and effort to improve his game have made him deserving of a promotion for a long time coming.
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Through 10 games to start the year, Nurse has three assists and is a plus-2, and has also played a solid game at both ends of the rink. Not only has he gotten more involved on the forecheck, but he is playing a solid defensive game and is taking charge on Edmonton’s struggling blue line. He has 25 hits and 20 blocks so far, and his possession metrics are also outstanding. With a 62.3 percent Corsi and 7.9 percent relative Corsi, he is able to control the puck and completely dominates in his own zone.
He has 25 hits and 20 blocks so far, and his possession metrics are also outstanding. With a 62.3 percent Corsi and 7.9 percent relative Corsi, he is able to control the puck and completely dominates in his own zone.
The 6-foot-4, 221-pound blueliner is a hard-hitting, aggressive defenceman who doesn’t shy away from physicality and stacks up well with his opponents. He plays a game that is well beyond his years, and he is also proving his worth as a strong shot-blocker who can also take good care of the puck.
He started the year as a third-pairing defender, a role that he has taken on since finally becoming a full-time NHLer just a few seasons back. However, he has shown a lot of improvement and poise in his role, and he appears more confident. Nurse is also skating better and is making fewer mistakes with the puck.
In the end, the Oilers find their defence struggling, especially in wake of the injury to Andrej Sekera. And hopefully, Nurse will be up to the task of taking on more ice time and filling his skates moving forward.