Oilers could be without Draisaitl, Henrique in Game 2 against Canucks

Oilers could be without Draisaitl, Henrique in Game 2 against Canucks
Oilers could be without Draisaitl, Henrique in Game 2 against Canucks

VANCOUVER – The Edmonton Oilers could be without Leon Draisaitl and Adam Henrique for Game 2 of the Western Conference Second Round against the Vancouver Canucks.

Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch confirmed Thursday that each top-six forward is day to day with an undisclosed injury and may not be able to play when the best-of-7 series resumes at Rogers Arena on Friday (10 pm ET; CBC, TVAS, SN, SN360, TNT, truTV, MAX).

“Leon and Adam are day to day, and I will let you know tomorrow if they’re playing or not,” Knoblauch said following practice.

Draisaitl went to the Oilers dressing room at 11:58 of the second period with an apparent injury Wednesday following a 10-second shift but returned to play in the third. He didn’t practice Thursday.

After the game, Knoblauch said that cramps and equipment issues were the reason Draisaitl left. The forward had two assists in the 5-4 loss to the Canucks. Edmonton led 4-1 in the second period and had a two-goal lead going into the third before the Canucks scored three straight goals in a span of 4:48 to take Game 1.

Draisaitl has 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in six playoff games, one fewer than Connor McDavid, who leads Edmonton with 13 points (one goal, 12 assists).

Henrique took the ice for the start of practice Thursday, skating with the team for the first time since the Oilers eliminated the Los Angeles Kings with a 4-3 win in Game 5 of the first round May 1. However, he did not participate in line rushes and eventually went to sit on the bench to watch the tail end of the half-hour session.

Henrique had two points (one goal, one assist) in five games against Los Angeles.

Connor Brown replaced Henrique in Game 1 after sitting out the first round as a healthy scratch. Sam Carrick is expected to play if Draisaitl is unavailable.

“In the playoffs, absolutely you need depth, that’s why at the [NHL Trade] Deadline we were adding those pieces and those players,” Knoblauch said of acquiring Henrique, Carrick and defenseman Troy Stecher. “We pushed some pretty good players out of the lineup, but when you’re playing every second day in the high intensity of the playoffs, guys get banged up and you need that depth.

“Fortunately, we have that depth. Sam Carrick didn’t play the other night and we didn’t have Connor Brown previously, so we feel comfortable inserting those guys who can play a role and play well for us.”

Carrick had an assist in the first three games against the Kings and then was replaced in the lineup by center Derek Ryan.

“You see it all the time with any team that goes on a run and wins,” Oilers forward Zach Hyman said. “Injuries are a part of playoffs, they’re a part of this style of play. Everything gets ramped up, everyone is finishing their checks, everyone is a little bit harder, a little bit dirtier, it’s just the nature of playoffs. Everybody wants to win and is doing whatever it takes to win.

“It’s the next-man-up mentality. We have great depth, we have guys who can come into the lineup and do a job. If guys are not able to play, then we have other guys who are ready.”

Henrique played left wing on Edmonton’s top line in the opening round with McDavid at center and Hyman on the right. Mattias Janmark was moved up to play with McDavid and Hyman in Game 1 against Vancouver.

Draisaitl centered the Oilers’ second line with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on the left and Evander Kane on the right.

“We’ll see what happens tomorrow, we’ll see where they’re at,” Nugent-Hopkins said. “Regardless, we have the guys in this room to be able to get the job done, we believe in that. Whoever has to step up into a different role, I think everyone can do that.”

Draisaitl’s absence in the second period Wednesday forced the Oilers to juggle their lines. Edmonton was outshot 11-4 in the period.

“I think everyone’s played with each other enough that you can slot guys into different positions and find that chemistry pretty quick,” Nugent-Hopkins said. “Of course, if you lose a guy or two guys throughout a game, it’s a little trickier to juggle the lines, but I thought we did a pretty good through that stretch when he was out.”

Edmonton was fortunate to remain healthy throughout the series against Los Angeles and had six days following the conclusion of the first round to rest and recover.

“This time of year, there is adversity everywhere,” Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse said. “There’s adversity in shifts, there’s adversity in periods, adversity in games and adversity in series. You deal with it, you manage it and you control what you can control.”

The Oilers are trying to avoid going down 2-0 in a series for the first time since they were swept out of the 2022 Western Conference Final by the Colorado Avalanche.

“That’s the way it goes with personnel, that’s the way it goes with getting scored against,” Nugent-Hopkins said. “You’ve got to adapt as fast as you can in playoffs and roll with the punches and keep pushing forward. Whoever is in, we’re going to be at our best tomorrow night and we expect that from everyone.”

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