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Sports Ethan Bear and Darnell Nurse giving Edmonton Oilers what they haven't had since 2016-17

07:40  22 october  2019
07:40  22 october  2019 Source:   edmontonjournal.com

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Edmonton Oilers defenceman Ethan Bear during NHL game action against the Los Angeles Kings in Edmonton on Saturday, Oct. But since they teamed up after Adam Larsson went out with injury, Bear and Nurse have been playing solid hockey in heavy minutes against tough competition.

Darnell Nurse ( born February 4, 1995) is a Canadian professional ice hockey defenceman and alternate captain for the Edmonton Oilers of the National Hockey League (NHL). Nurse was selected by the Oilers seventh overall in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.

Ethan Bear and Darnell Nurse are giving the Edmonton Oilers what they have not had since the 2016-17 playoff run, a functional first-pairing defensive duo.

The season is young, and both defensive and offensive slumps are all to real realities for NHL players, not to mention the threat of injury. But since they teamed up after Adam Larsson went out with injury, Bear and Nurse have been playing solid hockey in heavy minutes against tough competition.

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Darnell Nurse of the Edmonton Oilers grabbed my attention today with that snippet – part of his take about Mar 17, 2018; Sunrise, FL, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his goal I got sucked in by some of what I saw in 2016 - 17 and so did many of you. I can see how some

Does Nurse have to bring his price down? While those questions will surely get answers in the coming days, the Sekera wrinkle gives Nurse ’ s camp a little bit more leverage than they otherwise would have had and it will be interesting to see how the Oilers handle it.

That phrase “solid hockey in heavy minutes against tough competition” is a cliche for what’s expected of a top-pairing defensive parternship.

a hockey player standing in the snow: Edmonton Oilers defenceman Ethan Bear during NHL game action against the Los Angeles Kings in Edmonton on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019.© Larry Wong Edmonton Oilers defenceman Ethan Bear during NHL game action against the Los Angeles Kings in Edmonton on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019. As a descriptor, it lacks pizzazz.

But it’s nonetheless deeply satisfying for most fans of the Oilers of Edmonton to read that phrase and think of Bear and Nurse.

The team has been sorely lacking that kind of effective top-end partnership, that duo the coach can put out there against almost anybody and know they’re likely to survive it.

a screenshot of a cell phone© Provided by PostMedia Digital

In 2016-17, the Oilers actually had two partnerships on defence that were more than adequate, Andrej Sekera and Kris Russell on what I would call the top pairing (as the smart puck-moving Sekera was easily the best defenceman on the Oilers) and Oscar Klefbom and Adam Larsson the second-pairing. By the 2017 playoffs, Klefbom had stepped up and overtook Sekera as the team’s No. 1 d-man, but through the year Sekera had played a far more steady game with his elite passing and sound positional play.

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A subreddit for the Edmonton Oilers of the National Hockey League. Having someone like Bear to look up to makes a big difference for them . But it takes the media labelling him That said, Ethan has talked at length about wanting to be a role model for the indigenous community and I think it' s fantastic.

With that, the Oilers will have nine games to decide whether Evan Bouchard is ready to play in the NHL — an opportunity I think the team will be giving him. A little less give the player what they want would help tremendously. Horcoff got Sedin money without breaking a sweat (All he had to was ask).

We all know what happened next. Sekera’s game got levelled by two major injuries and Klefbom’s game has been inconsistent due to constant smaller injuries and some defensive holes that top attackers sometimes exploit.

Enter Bear and Nurse.

Nurse was slotted to play on a defensive pairing with Adam Larsson this year, a plan that might have worked but certainly was not at all working when Larsson got hurt. The two were getting beat on far too many Grade A chances against in the pre-season and in their first league game of 2019-20.

Perhaps they would have sorted it out.

I had my doubts, mainly because both are at best average NHL puckmovers. Nurse can skate the puck, but neither player has the strong passing skills of a Sekera or a Klefbom.

a group of baseball players on a field:  The Edmonton Oilers’ Ethan Bear (74) congratulates goalie Mikko Koskinen (19)© David Bloom The Edmonton Oilers’ Ethan Bear (74) congratulates goalie Mikko Koskinen (19)

As for Bear, as recently as August 2019, few expected him to make the team, but he came to camp in peak physical condition after a summer of working hard on his body and his skating technique. What he’s done since then — mainly by stepping up when first Joel Persson then Larsson got hurt — has convinced most observers of the team that he’s a solid NHL d-man, if not a solid Top 4 NHL d-man, if not a young player who has a chance of actually sticking in on a top-pairing and not getting his game bashed to smithereens.

Player grades: Edmonton Oilers grin and Bear it, hold off Red Wings 2-1

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Both had arbitration rights, which is a factor when comparing their salaries straight across with Nurse , but Montour' s deal makes me believe Nurse will for sure be in the million range Oilersnation is a fan site with no direct affiliation to the Edmonton Oilers , Oilers Entertainment Group, NHL, or NHLPA.

Through 26 games this season, Bear has been a revelation. Just a couple of months ago, he was viewed as a prospect who might get a look due to His poise and ability to move the puck effectively make him the top-four right-handed defenceman the Oilers have craved since Jeff Petry was traded.

The danger with any young d-man is they’ll be asked to do too much to soon at the NHL level, something the Oilers saw most recently with Justin Schultz, then with Caleb Jones last year. Jones crushed it in bottom-pairing minutes against softer competition, then got caved himself when he was asked to play top-pairing minutes and competition. He’s now getting his game back together at the AHL level (where he’s again dominating play).

As for Bear, he looked iffy even in a third-pairing role during a short test run in 2017-18, so much so that he spent all of 2018-19 in the AHL. But in their first run of games together, Bear and Nurse are thriving.

Perhaps it’s that they have complementary skills, with Nurse able to do the heavy lifting when it comes to physical play and Bear able to reciprocate when it comes to puck-moving. But not since Andrej Sekera’s strong run in 2016-17 have we seen the combination of fine passing and smart positional play that we’re now getting from Bear in a top-paring role. That’s what the scoring chance data tells us, with Bear contributing to a good number of Grade A chances at even strength and not making too many major mistakes on Grade A chances against. His number is almost identical to what Sekera put up in 2016-17.

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First NHL goal for # Oilers d-man Ethan Bear ! The right hand shot steps in steps upstairs What a goal Both upstairs, it does He has been getting better and better every game and there' s a good smiles from Darnell Nice power play for the orders to leave.

Alright, so right now the Oilers have about .9(ish) million left on the cap with Nurse to sign as well as 10th overall pick Evan Bouchard. That’ s not a lot of wiggle room to get both guys locked down without having to send some money out of town to make it work. — — — — — 2016 - 17 . Edmonton Oilers .

I’m not expecting Bear to go without a major defensive slump or two. He’s going to have some rough patches and maybe need some time in the bottom pairing again. He might even look like Mark Fayne out there for a week or two at a time (Fayne being the d-man who by far struggled most in a Top 4 role since 2015-16).

But Bear leads all NHL rookies for time on ice per game, at 20:43. If he got top power play time, he might even be able to make a run at the NHL’s rookie of the year award.

It’s also worth noting he played two years in the AHL to get ready for this test. He’s more seasoned than Justin Schultz was at the AHL level. And he’s also got a far more able partner in the now seasoned Nurse than Schultz ever had in Edmonton.

So we will see.

But so far, so good.

At the Cult of Hockey

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usr: 3
This is interesting!