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Game 2 of Stanley Cup Finals With Unexpected Edmonton Oiler Lineup Notes

Game 2 of the 2024 NHL Stanley Cup Finals goes tonight with the Edmonton Oilers, down 1-0, visiting the Florida Panthers. The Oilers continue to shuffle their defence lines around. From today’s morning skate, it appears as though the odd man out is Cody Ceci. Outside of Mattias Ekholm, Evan Bouchard, and Brett Kulak, their defence has been susceptible to difficulties this post-season. And since he’s gotten into the lineup four games ago, you can add Philip Broberg to that list. Outside of those names, it has been a struggle for Head Coach Kris Knoblauch to find what works for the group.

Also, this is surprising, since how consistent all three pairs played during the regular season. However, that was with no Broberg for most of the year in the NHL, and Ceci and Darnell Nurse enjoying a wonderful year. But this is the playoffs, and no one is concerned on regular season success, especially when you are trailing the best-of-seven Stanley Cup final series 1-0.

Tonight’s Three Defence Lines for the Edmonton Oilers

It may be time to hit the panic button, and having Kulak and Broberg together from morning skate maybe an example of coach Knoblauch doing just that. Game 1 of the final, was only a 3-0 game, with the third goal an Eetu Luostarinen empty-netter. Therefore, overall it was a strong game by the Oilers, keeping it close, and in fact, outplaying the Panthers for most of the game. For example, shots in the game ended 32-18 in favour of the Oilers. However, both Cody Ceci and Darnell Nurse did have spells of being slow to react and questionable decision-making. They were the pair on for both of the Panthers first two goals. Each time they left players unchecked in the attacking zone.

They Get Their Bruiser Back on the Blueline

Hence, coach Knoblauch’s hand was kind of forced to switch it up. If the lines from morning skate are any indication, look for Cody Ceci to draw out for tonight’s matchup. This allows a couple things to happen. First of all, Vincent Desharnais, possibly the Oilers best penalty killing defenceman, gets back into the lineup. He’s played a big game these playoffs. With totals of 38 blocked shots and 39 hits in 18 games, he’s backed it up with his play as well. Look for him to be motivated if he gets in tonight having not played since Game 3 of the Dallas Stars Western Conference Finals series. Also, by pairing Kulak with Broberg together, that gives Knoblauch the option of interchanging that pair as the number two pair, if by chance Nurse and Desharnais falter.

Notes on Edmonton Oilers Forward Lines Too

The last news for tonight’s game, is the status of Evander Kane. Kane was absent from morning skate today for the Oilers. Moreover, he has been dealing with a well-documented sports hernia this year. So, it was possible it was just for rest. But given the importance of everything this time of year, can the line combinations really afford to miss a practice of game planning? Based on the latest information, it does appear he is in for tonight, despite working through the injury.

It was difficult to pinpoint who from the practice lines might miss the game if Kane does end up playing. Derek Ryan was also out of the set of four lines. But now Kane does draw in. Sam Carrick was likely to be the top name to come to mind to sit down. Carrick was skating with Mattias Janmark and Connor Brown on a fourth line. He hasn’t played since Game 5 against Dallas, and only saw a little over six minutes that night. Also, three other candidates who have been sat at times throughout this year’s playoffs, all skated on the same (third) line today. So, you would’ve thought it was unlikely either of them is sat. Those three being Warren Foegele, Ryan McLeod, and Corey Perry.

Kane In, Perry Out

McLeod, in particular, has played well since being sat for the Game 3 loss to the Stars. He’s been playing just under 15 minutes a game of fast paced action. The Oilers need McLeod playing a responsible game carrying the depth through the trenches until the big guns can get their shot. But he did play less in Game 1. Maybe the Panthers size and skill caught him off-guard.

From the latest report, it looks like Henrique will play with Leon Draisaitl and Dylan Holloway on the second line. Therefore, Kane bumps down with Foegele and McLeod, which leaves Perry as the odd man out. However the exact alignment shakes down, look for the Oilers to be well prepared to fire all they got on Sergei Bobrovsky for Game 2 tonight. The game from Sunrise, Florida goes for 8 PM local (Eastern Daylight Time).

Main photo credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports


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