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Differential of -15: Darnell Nurse posts the second-worst playoff differential in history
Credit: Photo by Derek Cain/Getty Images

Since the start of the playoffs, everyone has been saying loud and clear that the Edmonton Oilers’ biggest problem is in front of the net.

Indeed, even though the Oilers have made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final, Stuart Skinner hasn’t performed like a No. 1 goaltender taking his team to the Final – far from it.

He’s had his ups and downs with some good games, but in general, his downs have been more significant in these series, as they’ve hurt the Oilers.

In fact, there’s a reason why Skinner hasn’t played in every one of his team’s games since the start of the playoffs.

In fact, on two occasions, the Oilers preferred to send Clavin Pickard as their starter rather than Skinner.

It says a lot when a team trusts Calvin Pickard more for playoff games.

In short, everyone knows that things aren’t great in front of the net in Edmonton, but despite this, the team managed to get to the final thanks to its attack, while the top four scorers in the playoffs (McDavid, Draisaitl, Bouchard and Nugent-Hopkins) are Oilers players.

However, what’s overlooked behind Skinner’s setbacks are the major defensive lapses.

Since the start of the playoffs, Darnell Nurse, who is supposed to be one of the Oilers’ best defenders, has simply been a nuisance on the ice.

In fact, his -15 differential since the start of the spring tournament represents the second-worst playoff differential in NHL history.

The 29-year-old defenseman is having a very bad series, with just three assists in 19 games, and is costing the opposition a lot of goals.

In fact, of the 50 goals the Oilers have allowed since the start of the playoffs, Nurse has been on the ice for more than half, for 26 of them.

It’s really not just coincidence or bad luck for Nurse.

He’s playing some pretty bad hockey, and teams are exploiting him to their heart’s content game after game.

Last night, the pair he forms with Cody Ceci did it again, as they were exposed on the only two goals (excluding the empty net) scored by the Florida Panthers.

You can see from the sequence that both Ceci and Nurse are completely lost and unsettled by Sam Bennett’s incredible play.

They don’t even have time to turn around before the puck is in their net.

This pair of defenders is really working hard, and it’s costing the Oilers a lot of money right now, as the Panthers exploited it last night, just like every other team that has faced the Oilers in the playoffs this year.

In short, this pair will most likely have to be separated if the Oilers even want to avoid the worst.

And getting back to Nurse, his performance is just awful, especially for a defenseman who just signed an eight-year deal worth $9.25M annually.

Nurse will still be pocketing $9.25 million a year for another six years after the end of the current playoffs.

The 29-year-old defenseman can once again say a huge thank you to his former agent, Kent Hughes.

It’s a very bad contract for the Oilers, so Nurse earns more per year than Cale Makar, the best defenseman in the entire NHL.

In short, Nurse is well on his way to breaking the record for worst playoff differential in history, when he’ll only have to be on the ice for at least two more Panthers goals.

In a gust

– Tkachuk is grateful for his goaltender’s prowess.

– Once again, he’s really showing himself to be one of the best performers in the playoffs.

– They held their own against the Panthers, even dominating them.

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