June 22nd, 2024

Draisaitl avoids suspension, Barkov might play in Game 3 of Stanley Cup final

By Stephen Whyno, The Associated Press on June 11, 2024.

Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse (25) and Florida Panthers center Evan Rodrigues (17) fight for position during the second period of Game 1 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals, Saturday, June 8, 2024, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) – Leon Draisaitl is eligible to play for the Edmonton Oilers in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final on Thursday night after avoiding a possible suspension.

Time will tell on two other key players in the series.

Florida captain Aleksander Barkov’s status is the biggest question after leaving the Panthers’ 4-1 Game 2 victory following a hit to the head from Draisaitl, who will not have a disciplinary hearing. The Oilers are not sure if top-four defenceman Darnell Nurse can play after being injured Monday.

“They’re a big part of our team,” Edmonton coach Kris Knoblauch said Tuesday of Draisaitl and Nurse. “Big part of the team is quite an understatement, taking either one of those two out. But whatever happens, we’ll assess it and I’m anticipating having the same amount of players available as we did for Game 1 and 2.”

Draisaitl, held without a point so far this series, will be one of them after the league decided the hit did not warrant supplemental discipline. The only off-ice punishment coming out of Game 2 was a $2,214 slashing fine – the maximum allowable under the collective bargaining agreement – for Edmonton’s Sam Carrick, who speared Florida’s Dmitry Kulikov in the third period.

Barkov grabbed at his jaw after the high hit from Draisaitl midway through the third, left the ice and did not return. The Finn who won the Selke Trophy as the league’s top defensive forward and is among the candidates to be playoff MVP, went to the Panthers’ practice rink and “wasn’t worse,” according to Florida coach Paul Maurice.

“That’s a really good thing,” Maurice said. “The real assessment will be (Wednesday), but if he continues to progress, we should be in good shape.”

Maurice said Barkov passed a needed evaluation Tuesday, without fully confirming that means the 28-year-old avoided a concussion and the protocol absence that comes with it. He wanted nothing to do with more discussion about the play itself.

“We aren’t dealing with that anymore,” Maurice said. “Part of that is the mental discipline to leave the game where it is regardless of the result. It’s done for me. It’s all done.”

What’s still left to determine for the Oilers is whether Nurse will play after missing the vast majority of Game 2 following a hit to the right side from Evan Rodrigues in the first period. Nurse skated just three shifts the rest of the way.

Knoblauch had not met with the medical staff to discuss Nurse before boarding the team’s plane for the flight from South Florida back to Alberta. If Nurse is unable to go, Edmonton could go back to Cody Ceci after scratching him in Game 2.

AP NHL playoffs: https://apnews.com/hub/stanley-cup and https://www.apnews.com/hub/NHL

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