GDB III: Line shake-ups against the Flames

Even though the Oilers are averaging four goals a game, Pat Quinn has decided to shake up all four of his lines.

Dustin Penner will skate with Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky. Sam Gagner will centre JF Jacques and Patrick O’Sullivan, while Mike Comrie moves to the LW beside Gilbert Brule and Ryan Stone. Andrew Cogliano is back in the middle between Ethan Moreau and Zack Stortini.

And it looks like Jason Strudwick will see his first action alongside Lubomir Visnovsky. Steve Staios is out because of his head and Robert Nilsson will take a seat upstairs.

It’s obvious why Penner is up on the first line, but it’s a bit surprising that he was moved there to jump-start Horcoff and Hemsky. Those two haven’t been good at all, and hands up how many of you thought Penner would be used as a spark-plug for others.

It’s a credit to Penner, because he is in good shape. He isn’t labouring skating up and down the ice, and in fact, he looks just as fresh late in the game as he does early.

Moving Comrie to the wing is a bit of a surprise, considering he is 80% in the draws so far. I wouldn’t be surprised if he takes a few of the draws playing with Brule. Gagner’s play has earned him a promotion and maybe he can somehow help O’Sullivan finish off the great scoring chances he has missed so far this season.

With all the shuffling, Quinn has remained true to his belief that he needs at least one banger on all of his lines.

The Oilers are expecting a more physical game from the Flames tonight. Last Saturday the Oilers were clearly the aggressor, and the Flames will try to match that.

And look for Quinn to match up Horcoff’s line versus Phaneuf and Regehr tonight. Those two have struggled in their own zone so far this year, and while Quinn doesn’t go out of his way to match lines look for him to try and get Hemsky away from Bouwmeester tonight.

Stone leads the Oilers with nine hits, and while he isn’t the best skater, he has been very consistent at finishing all of his checks. He has had two big hits, and landing a big hit is as tough as scoring a goal. If Stone continues to get at least one every two games, he’ll stick on the roster.

Smid has struggled, but I think Grebeshkov has been worse. However, his two points earned him a pass for another game. Quinn wants Nikolai Khabibulin to find his game and expect him to play tonight and Saturday against the Habs. It seems Tom Renney is doing the same with Grebeshkov. His play hasn’t been that much better, but the coaching staff believes his overall game is better than Smid’s and they are hoping Grebeshkov finds some consistency soon.

Steve MacIntyre continues to practice as a D-man, and unless the coaches feel they need a super heavyweight in a game, I don’t expect him to get in the line-up soon.

Wayne Fleming worked a lot with Horcoff, Cogliano, Brule and Gagner on draws this morning. Gagner is a woeful 29% so far this year and he needs to improve drastically. Cogliano went against Brule for two different sets of five, and then he went against Stortini. Stortini was strictly trying power moves, and it looked they there were trying to get Cogliano more comfortable against a big centreman in the draw. Considering the Oilers don’t have a big middle man, it makes sense to put Stortini in there strictly for the strength factor.

  • the simple matter is calgary is riding a lucky streak. they are not playing particularly good hockey at the moment

    I think the simpler matter is that Calgary has more actual NHL'ers. We're going to a gun fight with a knife against teams like them. Sure, we can keep up with outstanding efforts, but the better teams will usually make their breaks.

    In other words, while Calgary is practicing tips and deflections, we're practicing face offs and positioning.

    *And Calgary doesn't have Ethan "dumb-ass" Moreau throwing it out to nobody in the offensive zone with 30 seconds left in a 1 goal lead.

  • Dan the Man

    🙁 if there's ever a parallel universe, I wish it's 2 seconds earlier…and all Oilers fans would celebrate now…
    Calgary sucks! that's not a 4-0-0 team…what's wrong with this league??

    • In no way was Khabi's play an issue tonight. He played pretty damn good, and the score could have been more in favor of Calgary earlier on. All 3 goals were tip ins… the Jokinen goal in the shootout was absolute fluke (perfectly played by Khabi, but it came back off the side of the net.. ungh). The only goal I didn't like was Dawes' shootout goal. Didn't look that hard of a shot, but a similar shot also beat Kipper right after.

  • Victoria

    Quinn's postgame comments about Iginla were intense. "In the old days he woulda got whacked over the head with a stick."

    He wasn't even happy about the fight saying that Moreau shouldn't have honoured Iginla with a fistfight.

    Wow.

  • MattyFinch

    i have a fresh new fit sized hole in my wall thanks to that outing.

    Its UNBELIEVABLE how predictable the last 2 minutes for this franchise have become. Its to the point where im no longer watching the games live till further notice to avoid the last minute garbage displays or from the man above induced bullshit bounce that ultimately costs this team and my wallet in the long run.

    ps. that was a high stick and thats two games ive seen (ottawa vs to) were the idiots in toronto dont have the balls or education to see the stick is high.