One of the items from Friday night that didn’t get a lot of coverage: three specific lines with enough skill to be dangerous. The Oilers have (for a variety of reasons) had a difficult time giving definition and personality to their lines this season, but Friday night—and perhaps tonight—we’ll see the same kind of quality and depth.
TOP LINE CORSI FOR 5X5%
In the Pittsburgh game, the Nuge line was facing Crosby. That’s a helluva tough night, so the numbers are actually stronger than they appear.
- Nuge 45.8%; Hall 42.9%; Gagner 35%
This line was facing Crosby-Kunitz most of the time (8 minutes) and considering the best player in the world was out there those numbers aren’t bad. The line actually did some damage, scoring an even strength goal in the third period (and of course Crosby scored in the second period). If the Oilers are looking to upgrade Gagner on this line, a big winger like James Neal should be the ideal, the outer marker.
SECOND LINE CORSI FOR 5X5%
The Arcobello line was facing (looks like) the Sutter-Glass-Pyatt line mostly, about 5 minutes or so (it’s kind of foggy in the middle parts of the game).
- Arcobello 59.3%; Yakupov 55.6%; 50%
This is a pretty nice item for Dallas Eakins, he has skill against rumble and the results were really good in the game. Arcobello did get one point in the game (on the Belov goal) but it came while playing with Hemsky.
THIRD LINE CORSI FOR 5X5%
The Gordon line played the Malkin-Neal-Jokinen trio, although Malkin seemed to slip up and down with Crosby too, so this is a difficult item to cipher. I think the Penguins/Eakins regarded this as the second line, maybe even the first line at points in the game based on matchups.
- Gordon 55%; Perron 56.7%; Hemsky 59.1%
Based on their quality of competition and their delivery of 55-60% of the play, I’d be tempted to keep this line together forever. These are very good results, and in a game where Perron seemed quiet offensively I’d think we might want to re-watch and see how much of his game was devoted to keeping the game even. Interesting assignment the coaching staffs seemed to agree on, credit to Eakins for getting his most complete line out there often.
FOURTH LINE CORSI FOR 5X5%
Fourth line played mostly the Sutter trio, although they also played against the Adams family for 3+ minutes.
- Smyth 73.3%; Gazdic 66.7%; Jones 66.7%
This has to be the strongest game for an Oiler 4th line this year, and I’d actually believe it if you told me this line had the best night since the 2010 draft among 4lines. Lordy. Luke Gazdic appears to be something more than what he appears, or is riding some amazing luck. I chose him as the #18 prospect this winter and got some pushback, but if the young man can solve this 4line/tough guy problem and do a little to help in the actual game? That has value.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
There were some shock and awe moments in that Pittsburgh game, by eye and by number. Here’s hoping they can do it on the road.
All stats from extra skater.