The first rule of early pre-season games is just like the first rule of Fight Club: You don’t talk about early pre-season games. After all how much can you read into exhibition scrimmages involving line-ups that are one-third wide eyed juniors one-third AHLers and one third NHLers trying not to get hurt? Lots of guys look good in the first 10 days of an NHL training camp. Still it’s getting more and more difficult to dismiss what Darnell Nurse is doing in his first audition with the Edmonton Oilers. “He’s definitely getting better every day now” said head coach Dallas Eakins who liked what he saw from Nurse the first time around against Vancouver and did again in last night’s 5-2 win in the rematch. “We just have to wait and see if he plateaus or keeps getting better.” Nurse hasn’t experienced full-on NHL opposition or intensity yet but the seventh pick in the 2013 draft has played some tough minutes against some tough opponents. He’s handled himself in front of the net with the likes of Zack Kassian and didn’t look at all like a deer in the headlights of Henrik and Daniel Sedin. “Usually a young player or even an American Hockey League player you get out on the ice against somebody of the level of the Sedins they get a little shy” said Eakins. “They’ll sometimes give those guys a little extra space and a little too much respect. He wasn’t respecting anybody on the ice which I really like.” Nurse already seemed to have his ticket stamped for Junior before training camp even started - given that defencemen have a much longer learning curve than forwards - but if you were picking a team based on game alone his is stacking up pretty well.
Darnell Nurse giving Oilers brass headaches with impressive play
Edmonton Sun | Sep 22