3 Things To Watch For During Edmonton Oilers Last 10 Games

Edmonton Oilers Stuart Skinner and Mattias Ekholm Celebrate Win. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
Edmonton Oilers Stuart Skinner and Mattias Ekholm Celebrate Win. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports /
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Edmonton Oilers Newly Acquired Defenseman Mattias Ekholm
Mar 1, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander (88) and Edmonton Oilers defensemen Mattias Ekholm (14) battle along the boards for a loose puck during the second period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports /

How Does Jay Woodcroft Use Edmonton Oilers Defense?

Since the acquisition Mattias Ekholm around the trade deadline the Edmonton Oilers now have two stud defensemen that can just devour hard minutes. This is something the Oilers haven’t had in a very long time.

The fact that the Edmonton Oilers have a solid top 2 is something they were missing last year. No offence to Tyson Barrie, but Ekholm is a much better defender so the trade was a huge upgrade in that regard. The trade also moved Kulak to the third pair where he plays mostly with Vincent Desharnais.

This means the third pairing isn’t an all-rookie pairing. Before the trade, it was Broberg and Desharnias as the third pairing. That isn’t the end of the world in the regular season when there isn’t much as far as line matching and high-pressure plays go. In the playoffs, it would be a much different story.

That is why I think what Woodcroft does down the stretch is a thing to keep an eye on. Not so much for what pairings he has, but when you utilize each pairing. The current pairings he is using are what I think they will be for game one of the playoffs.

Nurse- Ceci

Ekholm- Bouchard

Kulak- Desharnias

I think we can all agree that the Kulak/Desharnias pairing is the third pair, it is the other two I want to see how they get used down the stretch. There are a couple of important games against the Kings and Golden Knights left. I expect Woodcroft to treat these games like playoff games as far as strategies go.

If Nurse gets the top forward line of these teams then I would expect Nurse to see them in the playoffs as well. If he doesn’t see them as much going down the stretch, then I would assume that Woodcroft would look at Ekholm as his number-one shutdown guy now.

I don’t think there is really a bad choice either way, it is just nice as an Edmonton Oilers fan to have more than just one option. We went right from only Klefbom to only Nurse, there wasn’t ever an overlap.