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Panthers expose serious Oilers problem with set play


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Liam McCormick
June 9, 2024  (12:00)
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Panthers scoring on Oilers
Photo credit: Sportsnet

In the practices before the Stanley Cup Final, Oilers coach Knoblauch went back to the old defence pairing of Darnell Nurse and Cody Ceci - and they got exposed twice.

The Nurse and Ceci pairing was on the ice for two Panthers goals against, both times blowing coverage in the defensive zone. However, on the second goal, the Panthers used a set play specifically against Nurse and Ceci.
Sam Bennett recognized the Ceci and Nurse pairing on the ice, and dumped the puck in from inside the blue line. Bennett beat Ceci to the puck, Nurse lost his coverage on Rodrigues, and Bennett was able to make a perfect center pass for the goal.
On the first goal as well, Nurse moved out of position to attack a player on the perimeter, which drew Cody Ceci out of position, and allowed the Panthers to score an easy cross-crease goal.
It's a tactic that opposing teams have used against the Oilers pairing in the past, and it's something that needs to be cleared up in the remaining Cup Final games. In the final games against the Dallas Stars, Knoblauch separated Darnell Nurse and Cody Ceci which produced much better results.
Nurse and Ceci have played together the vast majority of this season, and the success of other pairings makes it hard to disrupt the lines, but Knoblauch has to find a way to insulate the defensive liabilities of Cody Ceci and Darnell Nurse. Knoblauch has made some gutsy lineup decisions through this playoffs, but in the Stanley Cup Final, finding a way to protect the Oilers biggest weakness will be a tall challenge.
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9 JUIN   |   275 ANSWERS
Panthers expose serious Oilers problem with set play

Do you think Knoblauch needs to separate Darnell Nurse and Cody Ceci again?

Yes, split them up23886.5 %
No, other D pairings are too good279.8 %
See Results103.6 %
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