The Oilers iced a thin lineup in Vancouver. Many of their
top players were not playing. Hall, Nuge, Pouliot, Fayne, Perron sat out.
Although we knew this was coming from Eakins comments Thursday post game, I was
still surprised and left scratching my head at the decision.
There is a lot going on during a preseason. Teams are
evaluating the development of their young prospects and hoping some can fit
into their line ups. Veterans are trying to work themselves into game shape
without getting injured. Coaches are working in new systems or tweaking
have had stability behind the bench and with their players. Not many changes in
both for a few years. This makes it easier to get everyone on the same page.
Less teaching and developing of chemistry. A quick look at the Kings lineup
from last year and this year’s projected group shows that they will all know
each other quite well.
The same cannot be said for the Oilers. There has been a
pretty significant change in the players on this team. Some very nice moves by
MacT, but getting this group together quickly so they feel like a team and develop
chemistry would have been a priority towards the back end of preseason games if
I was the coach.
Eakins went a different direction. The line combos tonight
were not what we should expect for opening night against Calgary.
Eberle will not be riding shotgun for Gordon.
I would have liked to have seen his top lineup in Vancouver.
Make your player decisions and get them all ready to go. (Goes without saying
injuries aside). The game in Vancouver should have been used like game one of
the regular season. Put the pressure on the guys to win it. Full power play and
penalty killing meetings with players expected to be a part of those groups.
Treat each player and time of the game like a full blown regular season.
There is time to practice in the full blown lines before the
opener but those are practices, not games. This group needs success early this
season if for no other reason but for the players to believe. Thursday night we
will see trios that have not played together yet.
Draisaitl and Yak
It was a lot of fun to watch these two offensively. Talk
about chemistry! WOW! I really enjoyed seeing them play together. It was
exactly what I had hope it would be.
Seeing Draisaitl work the puck below the dots and even below
the goal line in the offensive zone looking for Yak was fun. He has that long
reach and ability to shield the puck.
Yak was staying above the tops of the circles while
Draisaitl was working it low, perfect position. When the time was right he
would jump into an area where a lane would open it. It is very hard for
opposing dmen to follow him up so high. It is counter to what you have been
taught for years, to stay close to the net.
This was a small sample size but I sure liked it. Throw in
Pouliot on the left wing, another big body that can hold the puck and retrieve
it. This line would be very different from the line of Hall, Nuge and Eberle.
That is more a quick strike line. Draisaitl, Yak and Pouliot would be a heavier
hold on to the puck and grind out longer offensive zone shifts.
I really liked what could be possible. Draisaitl could be
the center to unlock the Yak riddle!!
Now the bad news…..
Can these two coexist on a line and be sound outside the
offensive zone? Tough call that Eakins will have to make. I think it is a
stretch for this season but I would like to see.