Oilers coach Knoblauch gets caught in a lie when asked tough question

Liam McCormick
June 9, 2024  (4:26 PM)

Oilers coach Knoblauch speaking with media
Photo credit: Edmonton Oilers Raw

Speaking with the media today, Oilers coach Knoblauch fielded a tough question about going back to Darnell Nurse and Cody Ceci as a defence pairing, and Knoblauch had to lie to protect his players.

Mark Spector asked Knoblauch if there was any reason that he went back to the Nurse-Ceci pairing, and if he would reconsider after they were at fault for two goals against. Knoblauch didn't commit to keeping the pair together and noted that the pair has a brutal plus minus, but explained that their expected goal rating is much more positive.
»I guess if you look at actual goals for and against, it's not favourable. The expected goals for and against is not nearly. . . Doesn't paint the same picture at all. Completely different.»

Currently, Nurse and Ceci have a 34.4% expected goals percentage at 5 on 5, meaning they have a brutal 65.6 against. Darnell Nurse is a -15 in the playoffs right now, and all around - every number looks awful on the pairing. Knoblauch tried to slip in a real reasoning for the pairing, but it's a direct lie that they're posting good advanced stats.
Towards the end of the clip however, Knoblauch hints towards the real reason why the Oilers can't separate Nurse and Ceci. Both other defence pairings are having incredible success, and breaking up the pair would perhaps weaken the rest of the defence core.
»We're always balancing on what's best for those two players, but also what's best for all 6 of our defenceman. As a coaching staff, we always have to make those decisions. Not easy. Sometimes you have to give a little to get something else. As for the matchup next game, we haven't made any decisions yet.»

Mark Spector actually earned some rare praise from the fans for posing this tough question to Knoblauch, and called him out for the lie involved.
Knoblauch didn't confirm that there would be any changes, but he also didn't deny moving off of Nurse and Ceci next game. Now down one game in the Cup Final, any lineup moves need to be quick and effective - there's no more time to waste getting burned by one weak defence pair.
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Oilers coach Knoblauch gets caught in a lie when asked tough question

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