There’s every likelihood Tom Renney will tweak his line-up for Friday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena, and he certainly should in the wake of a 6-3 loss to the Boston Bruins.
With a mistake-filled defeat in Beantown in the books, giving the Oilers two wins and two losses through the first four games of a six-game swing with stops remaining in Detroit and Chicago, it’s time for a change.
If I’m Renney, I’ve had sophomore Magnus Paajarvi in the press box long enough. He’s coming and in and, for one night at least, Ben Eager is filling one of the cheap seats on press row at The Joe.
If I’m Renney, I’ve seen enough of Sam Gagner withering on the wing on the third line alongside Eric Belanger — neither one is getting anything done offensively — and I’m moving No. 89 back into the middle and bumping Belanger down a line.
And if I’m filling out Edmonton’s line-up, Andy Sutton, back from serving a five-game suspension for busting Gabriel Landeskog’s beak with head-shot in Denver, is going back in and Cam Barker is taking a seat.
WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE
— While I’m not tinkering with the top two lines yet if it’s my call despite an inability to create enough Grade A scoring chances against the Bruins, I’m tweaking the third and fourth lines.
— Gagner had a couple of shots against the Bruins in 13:12 of ice time, but with just 0-1-1 in his last five games and 0-2-2 in nine games overall, I’m not seeing a fit alongside Belanger.
— Making Paajarvi a healthy scratch any longer, especially after a loss, starts to yield diminished returns in my books. Paajarvi has struggled and needs to produce more. I’m guessing he gets it and I want his wheels in the line-up against the Red Wings and Blackhawks.
— I don’t see a need for the robust Eager against the Red Wings, so he’s coming out. I’m moving Belanger to pivot on the fourth-line for the time being to keep him in the line-up for face-offs and penalty killing. I’m keeping Anton Lander in, but slipping him over to the wing for a look-see.
My forward lines look like this:
— On the back end, I’m keeping Tom Gilbert and Laddy Smid together on the top pairing and Sutton goes in with Jeff Petry, Corey Potter, and Theo Peckham. It’ll be interesting to see how Renney sees it.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.