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WWYDW: The Blender

The Oilers had an incredibly disappointing start to their season on Saturday in Gothenburg. After flying through the pre-season, the team came out flat and got completely smothered by the Devils. It’s just one game, though, right? No need to hit the panic button, right?! It looks like Todd McLellan disagrees.

That’s right. The McBlender is out and the lines are being shuffled. Kyle Brodziak, who had a bit of a slow game against New Jersey, is out. JJ Khaira is in his fourth line centre spot and Drake Caggiula enters the lineup as the fourth winger. Jesse Puljujarvi has also been shoved down to the fourth line with Khaira and Caggiula while Tobias Reider and Zack Kassian have been bumped to play with Ryan Strome. The top-six has remained intact.

McLellan jumbling the lines should come as a surprise to no one. He was messing with lines in the third period of the season opener, he did it all year last year, and he was notorious for doing it when he was the coach of the San Jose Sharks, as Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, and Logan Couture bounced all around the lineup and Brent Burns went back-and-forth from forward to defence.

That brings us to this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday question. How would you handle the lines after Saturday’s disappointing showing? Do you think it’s too early for McLellan to whip out the blender?

Personally, I’m disappointed the coach is already making changes to the lineup after one game. It’s the beginning of the season and players need time to sink into their roles. After last year, Ryan Strome talked about how it was difficult to bounce around the lineup because it didn’t allow him to work his way into a niche. Now he’s in his second game and he’s already playing with a new pair of wingers.

The biggest issue here, in my opinion, is the handling of Jesse Puljujarvi. He looked excellent in the pre-season but wasn’t really a factor in the team’s first game. As a result, he’s found himself on the fourth line with a winger playing centre and Drake Caggiula, who was one of the team’s biggest offensive anchors last year.

What say you, Nation? Is McLellan too hasty with these changes to the lineup? How long should he let players operate in their roles before making changes? How would you organize the lineup?



      • TruthHurts98

        Short leash???? Hah! He and PC should have been canned ages ago. So no, they want to draft top 5 like normal. Bruins top line is going to have a hay day with our defense and goaltending tomorrow night. Nothing changes until the idiots running this team are fired. I don’t know how much longer Connor will put up with this excrement.

        • Kepler62c

          To suggest anyone in an NHL organization, even ignoring the fact the Oilers are an organization with Connor McDavid, WANTS to draft in the top 5 at the start of a season is ridiculous and a pathetic criticism of the team. Regardless of their skill, every coach, GM, Assistant GM, scout, etc. etc. etc. in ANY NHL organization is doing their best to ensure success on the ice.

          Of course, as seasons go on you can reasonably argue a GM or scout doesn’t mind getting a higher draft slot once his team is eliminated — but we are one game into the season and you spewing that the coach and GM want a top 5 pick?? Simmer down.

        • Frank Rizza

          Last week they were all predicting playoffs. Today everyone should get fired and the team sucks. I’m an Oiler fan too but holy f*** it’s only one game! Let’s calm down! There is 81 games left and the best player on earth plays for our team.

  • Div 13 superstar

    McLellen is under the gun. He can’t watch a game like that and do nothing. He needs wins, and I expect anybody not named McDavid is going to have a very short leash. I do hate to see Pulujarvi on the fourth line. Pretty hard to put him in a position to be successful from there. And I don’t remember seeing anything from Kassian to suggest he deserves to play up the lineup.

    • Odanada

      My Jesse story.
      On St Patrick’s day, 2018, myself, my father-in-law and my 10 year old son went to the Panther/Oiler game in FLA.
      My son had made a sign reading: “Can I please have a puck”. Puljujarvi came over to the glass and from my perch in the stands, I could see him reading the sign. He grabbed a puck and tossed it over the glass. I got a great picture of Jesse looking up as the puck went over the glass, my son looking up to catch it. Just at that moment a bigger kid elbowed my son in the gut and grabbed the puck. My son told him “a real Oiler fan wouldn’t have done that” and the kid told him to F.O. If I had been closer I’m sure I’d still be in a Florida jail.
      Anyways, we blew the picture up to 8 x 10, packed it with a SASE and mailed it off with a nice, polite letter. Last Friday my son opened up the envelope and was so happy that he screamed. His autographed photo is now hanging above his bed and Jesse has made a couple of fans for life.
      Todd McLellen? I feel like elbowing him in the gut and telling him to F.O.
      Thank you Jesse, you made my son very happy.

    • Why, he watched about 60 last year and in true Oiler fashion held no one accountable except Jesse. Fourth line plug, thats why we drafted him (NOT)
      Apparently the last game was his fault too. PVRd the first game, wont even waste the digital space this time. #FIRETHEMALL

  • PleaseWinOilers

    I would fire the GM and everyone in the front office.
    That’s not really answering the question because I don’t have an answer. That roster is hideous though.

  • Casey.

    Im just glad he put a lock button on the top-6 for a change, I’ll put $20 down betting that Todd had the itch of putting Caggiula on Draisaitl’s line. I like that Russell is with Nurse and Garrison is with Benning, those two young guys together was a disaster waiting to happen(and it did happen). Ffs though what does Todd have against Poolparty?? He’s crushing my damn soul my putting him on the 4th line

    • 99CupsofCoffey

      @The Future – i agree. A fast 1st line and a tough talented 2nd line. But even if he started the game this way, there’s no way it’d last long even if it was 0-0 after 1.

      • That's My Point

        The first shot usually goes in the net so the Oilers are down before they start playing EVERY GAME!!!!
        Need the ENTIRE team to be FAST, the is the NH f’n L.

        • 99CupsofCoffey

          Just how do you suggest we pay for these players to have a team full of the fast ones? If i recall, Management has overpaid more than a few of our current slow ones.

  • Svart kaffe

    McLellan is about two bad periods away from hooking up Draisaitl and McDavid again.

    I supported him last season but seeing them come out looking exactly the same and McLellan already out of tricks makes me lose confidence in him.

  • OilCan2

    I’m OK with the D shuffle. Not so much the forwards. Run McDavid as the fourth line center between JJ & JP every now and again after the commercial time outs.

    • Beer_League_Ringer

      I love the idea of sneaking McDavid in for a 3/4 line shift. Slats used to do that with Gretz all the time, especially when he was very young.

  • Rufio Barcoli

    The coach is out to lunch.

    Oilers will be 1-8-1 or 2-8-0 in the first 10 and then Toddy will be showed the door. His coaching is best compared to an ashtray on a motorbike.

  • IRONman

    27 29 98 was a solid line. Need a coach like Hitchcock. This team has to show up. Have intensity, where is the Pride to be a Professional. Lucic at least showed heart.

  • chezzychez

    We had a revolving door of coaches for years and it killed development of a number of our young players. We just got new coaching staff to help out Todd. Lets wait 20 games and see how they do together.

    • That's My Point

      Waste a quarter of the season on an experiment?
      If it’s not working change it IMMEDIATELY, in the same period if need be, that’s how good coaches adjust.
      And if it’s working don’t try to fix it, LEAVE it alone.
      If Todd’s not going to adjust the lineup to try and win, adjust the team without Todd and let whoever is left coach to win.
      This is the BIG league, can’t cater to little Johnny anymore, this is win at all costs with other teams just not the Oilers.

  • Randaman

    Fire the coach? Fire the GM? Trading players for unfair value hasn’t worked. Overpaying on contracts hasn’t worked. I’m all out of options unless someone wants to trade #29 for a true #1 RD?

  • Arfguy

    The biggest problem I have with those lines is that I think Leon needs speed on his wings. Unfortunately, I saw a couple of plays where Yamamoto tried to pass back to Leon, rather than take a shot. Leon needs someone who wants the puck, not someone eager to pass back to him. Jesse looks like he wants the puck and I don’t think putting him on the 4th line will help that much.