Ralph Krueger shuffles his lines; VandeVelde recalled

Jonathan Willis
February 08 2013 11:24AM

The Edmonton Oilers made their first significant shuffle to the forward lines in practice this morning. They also added Chris VandeVelde from Oklahoma to replace the injured Anton Lander.

The New Lines

Thoughts

  • The first thing to keep in mind: Friday's opponent is Detroit, which means that the Oilers needed to have two strong lines to match up against the Datsyuk and Zetterberg lines. In a lot of ways, this rotation to me looks like a way to spread out the wealth for road games against teams with a deep group of forwards.
  • Obviously, if Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky are expected to perform in a power-vs.-power role, they weren't going to do it with Yakupov. Taylor Hall is a more rounded player and at this stage of his career certainly a far superior possession player than the Russian rookie. Moving Hall to that line makes it much more difficult to play against.
  • Hartikainen joining Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle is something that's been talked about for quite some time; he adds size to that line but more importantly he's going to be a good fit in the offensive zone. This is a line that's likely still going to face relatively tough competition - especially against Detroit - and it will be interesting to see how they handle it, particularly given that Nugent-Hopkins is likely less than 100%. I'll also be curious to see how often Yakupov gets spotted in place of Hartikainen on this line.
  • I'm also curious to see whether the third or fourth line gets more ice-time against the Wings. Despite the fact that Yakupov's on the nominal fourth line, I'd be surprised if the two units weren't used roughly the same amount - Eager's just coming off a concussion and Smyth is playing centre, so that third line is less than ideal; on the other hand, VandeVelde is likely to initially slot in for Belanger on line four.
  • With special teams taken into account, I imagine the Oilers' top two lines get roughly the same amount of ice-time (with Hall leading the way) because I expect we'll see Nugent-Hopkins, Eberle, and Hartikainen still forming the core of the first power play unit. For that matter, Yakupov's bound to continue to see time on the power play, too.
  • Looks like Smyth/Petrell and VandeVelde/Paajarvi are the natural primary penalty-killing pairings up front. 

All things considered, these line changes strike me as pretty sensible - they fit with the situation and with Krueger's commitment to balance. 

Update

One last word, from the coach:

Recently by Jonathan Willis

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
Avatar
#51 Bloodsweatandoil
February 09 2013, 06:48AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

I will try to stay optimistic about these line shuffles and wait for the results, if this does not work, sorry to say, but it would be time for the management to make some moves. This season so far is starting to look like the last two and is becoming the pre cursor of explaining the definition of insanity. We are definately too soft, our defense needs help and our young guys need some room on the ice. It sucks watching 6 guys out of a full roster be the only contributors game in, game out for the last two-three years!

Avatar
#52 @eastcoasteh
February 09 2013, 08:44AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
Clarko wrote:

We must be watching two different versions of Smyth. I don't see how he would be able to keep up with the speed of RNH and Eberle. And his hands are brutal...can't make a tape-to-tape pass at all and really has been a giveaway machine so far this year. I would not reward his play by putting him on the top line. Hartikainen at least has earned more playing time this year.

I'm watching Smyth do whatever is asked of him. Which has mostly been PK and playing on a shutdown/checking line. He's playing his role. Plain and simple. Read game reviews from Willis and McCurdy and they mostly say the same thing...simple, honest game. Don't hate on the guy cuz he's not scoring when teamed with Petrell and Horcoff! Smytty's an old dog, throw him a bone and he'll go after it. He's still got the skills to play in front of the net, and still has the skills to dig the puck out of the corner. He can play a simple game to complement RNH/Ebs, which is something they need when struggling to put the puck in the net. No disrespect to Hartikainen, I still see him on the other PP unit and eventually top-6 minutes, but I think #94 could be effective offensively given the chance. Flipside to that is, he's way more effective defensively than Hartikainen, so depends which resource Kreuger needs.

Avatar
#53 Old Retired Guy
February 09 2013, 04:40PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
match16 wrote:

OMG JAMIE B, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?

#11 Jamie B. February 07 2013, 09:51PM 4 props

"That's my biggest annoyance with people who want to replace Sam Gagner: who do you replace him WITH? I agree a bigger, faster centre would be better for the team. Find me that guy and I'll personally drive Sam to the airport. Until then, what's the benefit in trading him? Y'all want to watch Yakupov play with Belanger?"

Agreed.

From now on...anyone who says we should trade Gagner should have to show us the deal they have in mind.

We can all agree with Gagner for Jordan Stahl...but this just move Gagner crap with no alternative is just that....crap.

So....to those who want to trade Gagner....let's see what you've got.

I'm sure Oilers Nation will let you know the merits of your proposal!

Avatar
#54 Old Retired Guy
February 09 2013, 04:46PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
DaveChamp wrote:

Bad. Bad. Not good. Goodbye to Yakupov's offence.

Yakupovs young....he'll get over it....he still gets second line PP time.

Besides....J Schultz is our candidate for Rookie of the Year.....

C-A-L-D-E-R ! C-A-L-D-E-R ! C-A-L-D-E-R !

We've GOT to get that chant going in our barn everytime he does something spectacular!

Avatar
#55 Old Retired Guy
February 09 2013, 04:56PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@Rob...

I like it.

1) Reminds of the Good Old Days with pairings Gretzky/Kurri Messier/Anderson etc Plug in whoever you want on the other wing.

( so cool how much Hall looks like a young Messier at times and RNH has a flash here and there of Gretzky in him. J Schultz - Coffee, Harti - Tikanen Eberle - Anderson....probably taking it little too far...but its fun).

2) Gives you the chance to elevate to another level by putting Hall, Nuge and Ebbs out there together when you need to change the pace of the game or get that game winner with 60 seconds left to play.

Just Keep the DUOS together. (For me the Duos should eventually (once we trade for/draft another center) be Nuge/Eberle Hall/Hemsky Gagner/Yak)

Avatar
#56 Old Retired Guy
February 09 2013, 05:00PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
Lochenzo wrote:

@ryanchett: I'm sure Chicago would love to have Sam Gagner and Patrick Kane re-united. To have that pairing behind Toews-Hossa...wow!

you see.....

Gagner/Kane Toews/Hossa

DUOS!

Avatar
#57 Old Retired Guy
February 09 2013, 05:02PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
DonDon wrote:

These forward lines look like a dog's breakfast. Although this isn't the same Detroit Redwings that were long-time SC contenders, once the first puck is dropped I'm sure Krueger will switch the third and fourth lines around. Surprised that Whitney will be dressed, expect he will be the 7th D.

Thought Whitney played better today

Avatar
#58 Old Retired Guy
February 09 2013, 05:10PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
Walter Sobchak wrote:

I wonder what everyone here would have said if Hall or RNH got demoted thier first year?

With the way people reacted to the benching of the kids and not playing the kids the most TOI I'm guessing not well.

So far, the Oilers haven't put Yakupov in a position to succeed or at the very least sheltered him, it's been sink or swim.

Hartikainen on the second line is a joke I don't get, WTF has he done to warrant a top 6 role? I don't care if he crashes or bang, goes after lose pucks or not.

He can't score let alone score 5x5 were the Oilers need it the most. Then reward him with PP time, how many goals or assists has he generated there.

This is complete bush, then again what do you expect from the last place team 3 years running.

Screw it, lets see what Khabibulin can do while there at it.

This is clearly a defensive move by a defensive coaching staff.

This will not end well.

Have to give you credit for the "Will not End Well" part......because it did not end well.

As for the rest of it.....I pretty much disagree with everything you said.

YAKs situation looks good to me... Harti's situation looks good to me... Habby played great (Second Star)....

But like I said....I do give you your cudos for "Did not end Well".

Avatar
#59 Old Retired Guy
February 09 2013, 05:17PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
GVBlackhawk wrote:

Hartikainen has passed Smyth in their respective abilities to play in front of the net. Smyth was the man, but the torch has been passed.

Agreed.....but only because of age....Smyth is still more skilled and wiley....just slower.... Harti is on his way up and Smitty is an excellent third liner.

Avatar
#60 Old Retired Guy
February 09 2013, 05:26PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
etownman wrote:

I'm glad Vandevelde is coming up, should have been him instead of Arcobello! This kid is seriously strong, probably never get many pts but very strong in corners, pk & dot! He's also a smart player, like this move!

Nice to get a look at the OKC talent as call ups. Really gives you some insight into how well the management team knows the skill levels and what to expect from these players.

Tells you that there are probably no hidden gems wasting away in OKC....including the likes of Vandevelde, Pitlik, Tuebert, Arcebello, etc.

Avatar
#61 Old Retired Guy
February 09 2013, 05:35PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
Walter Sobchak wrote:

Your kidding right............the game of hockey is based on scoring more goals then your oppositions.

Now, think about who is actually creating space out there, and for whom, if you think Hartikainen is the one creating the room then your grossly over estimating Hartikainen and under estimating Eberle and RNH.

As for screening a goalie, you could get Eager to do the same thing, does that mean he's qualified to be in the top six or on the PP?

You get back to me after this weekend and will discuss the effects of Hartikainen.

I don't think its a case of Harti freeing up MORE space for Nuge and Ebbs.....its more a matter of.....Can Harti fit in on the line, hold his own, and wreak a little havoc around the net.......While at the same time allowing us to create some balanced scoring across more lines with Hall, Gagner and Hemsky playing together.

If Hartikinan doesn't look too out of place (don't forget he's young and he's new at it) then it could pay dividends.

Arcebello......looked out of place.

Comments are closed for this article.