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Analyst Points Out Oilers’ Biggest Playoff Issue on Their Blue Line

How good is this Edmonton Oilers’ blue line group? When it comes to playing the top contenders in a playoff series, can they keep up?

Got Yer’ Back host and Edmonton Oilers reporter for TSN, Ryan Rishaug wonders if the Oilers have a problem heading into this season’s playoffs. Having not upgraded the defensive group at the NHL Trade Deadline, Rishaug wonders if the group will be playing a bit behind the pace of play with the best teams in the NHL. Saying he sees a bit of “survival mode” in their game against the Colorado Avalanche, the worry is that the group is collectively not quite there.

You can see in the video below, that Rishaug is speaking with the crew at Edmonton Sports Talk and he noted, “I wonder if the Oilers are a d-man short here.” He added, “I wonder if they’re a top-four d-mam short that could really get out there and impact the game and not just be in survival mode, because I think the d that they have when the pace goes to that level, there’s some survival mode that’s happening out there.”

Rishaug said it didn’t help that he was watching Sean Walker rip around the ice and score two goals and carry the blue line for the Avalanche when they beat Edmonton in overtime this past Saturday. As many might know, the Oilers were in talks with the Philadelphia Flyers to acquire Walker, but ultimately chose not to pay the higher price in a deadline trade.

Is This Oilers’ Blue Group Good Enough?

At times, the Oilers’ defense has been incredible. And to be fair, they went toe-to-toe and held the highest-scoring team in the NHL to two goals in regulation. A top-four that consists of Mattias Ekholm, Evan Bouchard, Darnell Nurse, and Cody Ceci can shut teams down. The question becomes, can they shut the top contending teams down in a seven-game series? General manager Ken Holland is banking his last season as the team’s GM on the fact that they can.

Oilers defense pairings Darnell Nurse

And, should they be able to stay above water, can this defense transition from limiting goals against and turning the jets on and producing on offense? It’s one thing to be solid enough not to get scored on or blown out. It’s another to do that and help the forwards put up goals in close games.

Next: Brock University Goalie Connor Ungar Talks Signing with the Oilers

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