GDB 22.0: LINE JUGGLING

After 21 games with an offence that scores less than a married guy after coming home late from an all-nighter, Ralph Krueger elected to switch up his line combinations. And he was smart enough to do it against the team the Oilers dominate like no other western division foe, the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Oilers have won 28 of 45 games played vS. the Blue Jackets, a solid 62.2 winning percentage. Jordan Eberle, Ales Hemsky, Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Magnus Paajarvi and Ryan Smyth all average at least a point-per-game vS. the Blue Jackets, so juggling the lines should be easier to sort out against the Jackets than the Red Wings in two nights.

LINE UP

Hall/Nugent-Hopkins/Hemsky
Paajarvi/Gagner/Eberle
Jones/Belanger/Yakupov
Eager/Smyth/Brown

Nugent-Hopkins is very good defensively and Hall and Hemsky are the hardest wingers to defend, so that line should see, and be able to handle, the tougher minutes.

The 91-89-14 trio looked decent v. Minnesota, and if Paajarvi can stay as involved in the game as he was in Minnesota they should create some chances.

Jones/Belanger/Smyth had some very good shifts against the Wild where they created turnovers and hemmed the Wild in for a good 30-40 seconds. Yakupov could add the potential for outside shots, but he won’t be as good as Smyth at cycling the puck. I’ll be curious to see how this trio plays. If Horcoff was healthy this line would be much better.

Moving Smyth to centre isn’t ideal, but considering Vande Velde adds little, I’d go with Smyth’s experience even if he is out of position. If this line cycles like you’d expect them to, and can wear down the defenders on most shifts Krueger will be happy.

Smid-Petry
N.Schultz-J.Schultz
Peckham-Whitney

It seems like Whitney is starting to play the way Krueger and Steve Smith want him to. He jumped up into the rush much more in St.Louis and Minnesota, and by being more aggressive, and moving his feet when he had the puck, he wasn’t caught standing still as often. He needs to play like he has the last two games to stay in the lineup.

Dubnyk

Dubnyk stole a game the last time the Oilers were in Columbus. The Jackets outshot them 40-14, so you’d expect a better effort tonight from the skaters in front of Dubnyk.

QUICK HITS

  • This is one of the greatest videos I’ve seen in a long time. Kudos to You Tube poster/artist "M A K A V E L I" for this hilarious compilation. He made this after Bruins head coach Claude Julien had the audacity to complain whine about the Montreal Canadiens and their embellishment. 

  • I know Oiler fans are talented so we might have to have a You Tube contest later this year.
     
  • After listening to Steve Tambellini yesterday I think it is fair to conclude that when the Oilers get healthy he’ll have to make a minor trade or two to get guys back on the roster. Vande Velde will go down when Horcoff returns in a few weeks, and Hartikainen likely goes to minors when he comes of IR, but when they activate Mark Fistric from the IR he’ll have to try and move someone rather than just lose them on waivers.
     
  • Right now the 8th place team is on pace for 54 points. If we conclude that 54 points is the cut off for the post-season, the Oilers need 34 points in their final 27 games. Meaning they need to go 16-9-2, 15-8-4 or 14-7-6 to make it. I think 8 OT/SO losses in 27 games is a stretch so I won’t go lower than 14 wins. A loss tonight v. the lowly Blue Jackets makes the final 26 games even harder. 

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers find a way to win and the 4/93/83 trio combine for six points in a 4-2 victory.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Mike Brown fights Jared Boll. Fans who like scraps will love it, while the number crunchers will suggest Brown is an awful NHL player and that his intensity isn’t necessary and that punching people doesn’t help you win.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: While Ales Hemsky is serving a rare coincidental roughing penalty, Krueger gives Brown a shift with Hall and Nugent-Hopkins. Nugent- Hopkins finds himself all alone in the slot and releases a quick snapshot. The shot was going high and wide, not surprise since his aim seems a bit off this year, but it hits Brown in the moustache and deflects into the net. Brown’s moustache is so thick it protects him from a cut. Within minutes @MBstache will be created on twitter and it will have 10,000 followers by the end of the game.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR

  • Mike Krushelnyski

    Unfortunately, we haven’t seen much out of Vandevelde, so I’m willing to see what happens with Smytty. Smytty decent along the boards paired up with a couple of bangers with decent speed. If they can sustain pressure in the offensive zone and be physical on the other team’s Dmen, then they will set up the next line the comes out on the ice.

  • Mike Krushelnyski

    “Right now the 8th place team is on pace for 54 points. If we conclude that 54 points is the cut off for the post-season, the Oilers need 34 points in their final 27 games. Meaning they need to go 16-9-2, 15-8-4 or 14-7-6 to make it.”

    🙁

  • Mike Krushelnyski

    GAD DAMNIT KRUEGER, why oh why won’t you at lest for one game play the 3 first overalls at their natural position for just one damn game? I’ve been dying to see Hall and Yak on a line all freakin year.

    How many times will you ‘juggle’ the lines without at least giving this a shot.

    • justDOit

      I as well would like to see that line.

      I agree that Hall and Hemsky wouldn’t seem to fit, both of their play style demands they have the puck most of the time.

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    I like the line combos for the most part.

    My one beef is the same one I’ve had with Hemsky for a long long time. HE CONNOT PLAY WITH ANYONE!

    Hemsky is an amazing player. But he’s a one man show. Hemsky and Hall are more effective on separate lines, with players that complement their games on the opposite wing. They’re less effective on the same line.

      • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

        I guess what I’m saying is Hemsky would have more assists, and goals for that matter, if he’d use his linemates more. His linemates would benefit more as well.

          • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

            What does that mean? He’s a better scorer than other guys from his draft year that don’t have as many points? Guys like Stephen Weiss, Mikko Koivu, and Chuck Kobasew? It certainly doesn’t mean he’s almost as good as Kovy and Spezza.

            I’m not saying Hemsky sucks. I’m saying he can be better. He needs to use his teammates more.

            Hatin? Don’t think so.

            Don’t be so sensitive.

            Edit: By the way, have a look at round 2 from that year and tell me how much longer can people keep using your argument.

            http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/draft/nhl2001e.html

          • OilerLand

            I thought my point was obvious. You’re point that Hemsky should score more is not based on facts. He does score enough. His scoring has been one of the few bright spots this teams has had in the past decade. Why not complain that he doesn’t hit enough. Although that isn’t something we should expect from him, at least the evidence supports that argument.

            It frustrating to listen to complaints like this, when there are dozens of actual problems we can all talk about.

          • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

            The only thing obvious about your point is how wrong it is. This argument has been used for so long it’s not even valid any more.

            He scores enough? Hmm… I didn’t think about that.

            I was gonna say, don’t take it so seriously. But I think it’s too late. So I’m just gonna stop so I don’t completely ruin your evening.

  • Gilmore Tuttle

    “Thornton goes down as if shot… GET UP!!!” Hahahah pure gold. That video is priceless. That whole team looks like they were hungry for clams, dive central.

  • justDOit

    Licking my chops at the thought of a Brown-Eager hard on the forcheck type of game.
    NSOGDP after brown and eager sandwich a blue jacket behind the net, Eager picks up the loose puck and does a Smythesque type wraparound for a goal.
    If we loose I’m going to start a toothpick replica of the new arena.

      • ScottieA

        That illustrates part of the issue. There isn’t much to work with to begin with. And that falls on this brilliant GM we have working for the team.

        But since you asked, I will respond. I’d throw an actual centreman on that line, and sit Eager if you MUST play Brown:

        Smyth-VandeVelde-Brown

        • justDOit

          Perfect. Then maybe it’s not really the coach’s fault (re: boneheaded). The BJs already have 22 fighting majors this year, compared to all of 3 for the Oilers. This is going to be a tough game, and it’s clear that our mgmt is determined to fight fire with fire, so both of Brown and Eager draw in.

          The 4th line C debate comes down to apples and grenades: you have a C who has been underwater all year in the NHL, and you have a real NHL player who isn’t a C. For the 8 minutes of ice time they’ll get tonight, I don’t see how having Smyth in there isn’t the ‘least worse’ option. And sadly, that’s the best we can hope for.

          Plus, Krueger has Smyth available for PP and PK time as well when he’s in the lineup.

  • Ogie Oilthorpe

    Best NSOGDP in a while, had my crying.

    I disagree with all the stat boys, I think having “the stache” in the line up along with Teddy getting a more regular spot will discourage the treatment some of the young guns have been getting from the other teams. Seeing Fistric step in for Nuge last game was the one bright spot for the Oil.

    The Oil definitely need more of a deterrant for guys taking runs at their stars. With the exception of Hallsy. He reminds me of ol #11.. Players eventually learned that you took a run at him and you were going to get a neck high cross check before you touched him.

    • justDOit

      I would love to see Hall stick a guy in the gut next time they take a run at him. Slash them were there is no protection. Dude wants to fight Hall, he can just skate away. Too bad they eliminated the old Howe/Mess elbow to the head…

  • The compilation with Jack Edwards standing on a montreal street going off about where the game went wrong is priceless.

    He even brings childhood values and such into his “argument”. It is so completely delusional it astounds me…….. still.

    Poke the bear# 1 I believe. Same youtube guy. Awesome!

  • Quicksilver ballet

    If Hall is unable to go add some pizz’n vinegar to the top line. Put Ben Eager up there for a few games. Who else do the Oilers have on their roster to fill that bill? Still suffering through hockey that doesn’t matter this season again anyways.

    I appreciate this opportunity to biotch and moan.