December 04 2013 02:54PM
TSN’s Ryan Rishaug tweets that we should expect head coach Dallas Eakins to make significant change to Edmonton’s line-up against Colorado, with the potential for some surprising healthy scratches. Who might they be?
Don’t be surprised to see some regulars on the outside looking in tomorrow against Colorado. Lineup shake up could be coming— Ryan Rishaug (@TSNRyanRishaug) December 4, 2013
As it stands, the Oilers don’t have many options because most of the team’s spares are injured. Leaving goaltenders out of the mix, here’s the list of players on the roster that didn’t play last night:
- Luke Gazdic
- Philip Larsen (back injury, nearly ready)
- Boyd Gordon (shoulder injury, day-to-day)
- Tyler Pitlick (knee injury, likely ready this weekend)
If all Eakins has is Gazdic, his options are minimal. If Larsen and/or Gordon is ready to return, that list of choices gets a lot longer.
If Eakins wants to scratch a winger, who might he choose?
First off: not David Perron.
Of the big names, both Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle are plausible choices. Hall has had a rough season but played reasonably well last night; Eberle’s had a better year but his defensive deficiencies popped up again against Phoenix. Either would be a huge surprise and fall into the “message sending” category of roster moves. Another option is Ales Hemsky, though that wouldn’t be as big of a shakeup and it’s far from clear he deserves it.
The rest of the options wouldn’t really count as surprises. Ryan Smyth has been a scratch before and is on the fourth line. Nail Yakupov has been a scratch before but his game seems to be coming around, however slowly. Ryan Jones has been a frequent scratch but again it’s unclear he deserves to be now. Jesse Joensuu richly deserves a night off, but that’s as unsurprising as it gets.
If Boyd Gordon is ready to go, Eakins has some choices. Will Acton’s a fringe NHL player and an easy scratch; Mark Arcobello’s better but has also been a regular scratch for Eakins. Neither would be a surprise. At the other end of the spectrum, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins would be a bizarre scratch.
But Sam Gagner? No other player on the roster better meets at the centre of “veteran regular who would be a surprising scratch” and “deeply deserving of a night off.” Gagner is always controversial, and deeply unpopular at this exact moment in time thanks to last night’s game. If Gordon’s ready to go, Arcobello could take Gagner’s second line spot and Gagner could find himself sitting out a game.
Every defenceman on the team is a plausible choice here. Jeff Petry is the team’s best defenceman but made big mistakes last night and has been error-prone of late. Andrew Ference, his regular partner on the top pairing, hasn’t really looked like a top-four defender in Edmonton. Anton Belov has largely been good but has been wildly inconsistent from game-to-game and looked really bad against Phoenix.
Justin Schultz is the guy I’d target, though, because for all of his talent he seems incapable of switching to any mode other than ‘cheat for offence.’ It’s not just simple mistakes, it’s his whole approach to the game.
The Last Word
Eakins used the term “resetting the player” today. He’s used that before when referring to scratching a player. Message sending time ?— Ryan Rishaug (@TSNRyanRishaug) December 4, 2013
Eakins comment about resetting a player? They were in answer to a question about Jeff Petry.