Oilers defenseman Cody Ceci a healthy scratch for Game 2 of Stanley Cup Final

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SUNRISE, Fla. — Defenseman Cody Ceci will be a healthy scratch for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, marking the first time that’s happened as a coach’s decision in three seasons with the Edmonton Oilers.

“We’ve had those difficult decisions with other players throughout the playoffs. It’s not easy for me,” coach Kris Knoblauch said. “But we’re in it for the best for our team. We feel that this is something that’s going to help our team.”

Ceci was minus-2 in the series opener against the Florida Panthers. He had one shot on goal, four hits, a giveaway and three blocked shots.

The 30-year-old has two goals and four points in 19 games during the playoffs. The Oilers have been outscored 14-7 in 320 minutes with him on the ice at five-on-five, per Natural Stat Trick. They’ve also been outshot 146-121 and out-attempted 345-267.

“He’s such a big part of why we’re here,” longtime partner Darnell Nurse said. “He’s been such a good player for us for so long. That confidence that he has can’t waver because we’re going to need him again.”

Coming in for Ceci is Vincent Desharnais, who was held out of the lineup for the last four games to make room for 2019 first-round pick Philip Broberg. Desharnais has one assist with a minus-8 rating in 15 games this postseason.

“Vinny has played very well for us this year whether that’s through the playoffs or in the regular season. We have a lot of confidence in him,” Knoblauch said. “He can move the puck out. He’s a big defender.

“We have an excellent, capable person, who hasn’t played the last few games. We feel that he can help us.”

“It’s pretty exciting to play the Stanley Cup Final,” Desharnais said. “I’ll be ready and I’ll just do my job.”

The 6-foot-7 blueliner will take Ceci’s place next to Nurse.

“He’s got the long stick. He plays aggressive. Very good defensively,” Nurse said. “We’ve played together a little bit over the course of the playoff run and in the regular season, so I think we have a good feel for each other.”

“When we work together, we communicate well, and we make a very good pair,” Desharnais said. “We’re hard to play against and we try to be as physical as possible.”

It appears there could also be a lineup change up front, though Knoblauch wouldn’t confirm that.

Evander Kane didn’t participate in a full morning skate, but that’s not unusual because he’s dealing with a sports hernia. Kane said he expects to play.

Adam Henrique moved to Leon Draisaitl’s left wing after centering the fourth line in Game 1. Sam Carrick took Henrique’s place between Mattias Janmark and Connor Brown. Carrick left the ice early, indicating he’s likely to play.

Based on the skate, Kane could be playing on the third line with Ryan McLeod and one of Corey Perry or Warren Foegele. Foegele was off the ice early, so he’s probable to play.

Lineup changes are nothing new for the Oilers in these playoffs. They’ve used 14 forwards, seven defensemen and two goaltenders. The scratches have been Perry, McLeod, Foegele, Brown, Carrick, Broberg, Desharnais, Derek Ryan and now Ceci.

“We’ve got 16 or 17 NHL forwards and probably eight NHL D-men,” captain Connor McDavid said. “There are going to be lineup changes. Kris and the coaching staff have made some different decisions along the way. Everybody’s done a great job of stepping in and contributing. Guys who’ve gone out have stayed ready and jumped back in and helped just the same.

“We’ve got great depth. It’s unfortunate that guys have not played some games, but everybody’s pulling on the rope here. Everybody understands where we’re at.”

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(Photo: Peter Joneleit / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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