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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.

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • 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.

    • 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

    • 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.

  • 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.

  • Spoils

    remember when the McDavid Draisaitl line was sooooo good you couldn’t possibly break it up?

    I think we may need to move RNH over to Draisaitl’s wing – not yet, but that would be my next shuffle. Think of it like ideal seeding of teams – one semi-final has the top seed and the #4 seed, the other has #2 and #3…

    heck, the biggest benefit might come from RNH’s defensive prowess (for reference please watch the first NJD goal)

  • Beer_League_Ringer

    I understand some fans thinking that Jesse to the 4th line is punishing the kid. I offer a different perspective: TM needs more from his bottom 6 and the shuffling on lines 3/4 isn’t entirely based on individual performances from game 1 (except maybe the lineup insertions/deletions). Face it, the dude is on the hottest of hot seats – win now, or he’s fired.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Just facts

    Before jumping to conclusions it might be helpful to get some facts about what is actually happening. Spector notes that the coach said no decisions on lines have been made and that rather than demoting Jesse to the 4th line with Brodziak out, JJ has been promoted to 3rd line centre with Strome down to the 4th line. As Spector says a bit of shuffling in practice the day before a game may just be the coach sending a message that there is not going to be a lot of patience if performance doesn’t improve.

  • Bills Bills

    No issue except with JP. His game wasn’t that bad in Sweden. As for Brodziak out and Cags in, not a huge difference to me. Bouchard being moved for Garrison is a good move. They don’t need him getting lit up but the whole defence sucked in game one, step up.

  • Last game, the following players were on the negative side defensively (shots against over for):
    2nd pair: Nurse, Benning <– utterly brutal
    2nd line: Lucic, Draisaitl
    3rd line: Khaira
    4th line: Rieder, Brodziak, Kassian <– very bad

    Shouldn't Bouchard be playing over Benning now up until 9 games?

  • Elgando

    He’s a smart coach but the tinkering should have been done in the pre season, not now. What message is it sending to Jesse? One bad game and it’s over for you?… Back to the fourth line?! I’d he didn’t perform well, maybe we can push start him be playing on the first line instead of the fourth..

    • Mitchvar9412

      Sorry, accidentally clicked trash it. I meant to click the other one. I agree with this point. Why run solid, unchanging lines during preseason and then one game in change them right away. Makes no sense.

  • Mitchvar9412

    I would tell McLellan to get a clue and stop burying our actually talented wingers. My lines would be
    Nuge – McDavid – Rattie
    Lucic – Leon – Yamo
    Reider – Strome – JP
    Khaira – Brodziak – Kassian

    Lets stop playing JP with unoffensive players, and untalented players, ruining his talent, and play him in a top nine role. If lucic goes on another slump or this doesnt work for about a month, maybe substituting Chaisson and Cagguila in on the fourth line, Then I’d move Lucic to line three, yamo to the left wing and JP to the RW along draisaitl and yamo. But putting Kassian and Reider on the third line over JP is a slap in the face. and if anyone is sat because of their play from saturday it should be benning. Bring back bear because he actually deserves to be here the way he played in the pre-season.

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    For the love of christ, when Staples mentioned in his Journal article, that TM was considering blendering the lines and yes even the top line FFS ) it was like seriously? Does he expect guys to gel in one game? I have no problem with guys moving down the line up if they arent performing but some of these are head scratchers, I have yet to see where Benning, Cagguila, Strome and Kassian have done anything worthy of staying in the lineup, send em to the pressbox, especially Benning. Bear should play in Benning’s spot, Chaisson should be playing in the Boston game. TM has a weird habit of staying with guys even when they are not performing, Puljujärvi had a great preseason way better than Kassian and he’s on the 4th line? Yeah that will boost the kids confidence. TM’s line combos other than the 1st make me wonder if he knows what managing his players is about

  • Jerri Kurli

    I’m not sure why JP is demoted. I thought he was creating more offensive opportunities than anyone else in the bottom 6. I can see why Brodziak is out. I can also see why Bouchard comes out. He doesn’t need to be thrown to the wolves for 9 straight games. Practising with the pros and learning through drawing in and out is better for player development. Gives management a chance to see what’s going to be the best direction on the backend. If this backend is incompetent I’m sure a trade will be made to strengthen it. Moving Russel up was the best option we had, as Benning was our worst defenseman in the first game. If changes need to be made. Now is the time to make adjustments

  • Abagofpucks

    The sky is falling the sky is falling run for your lives awwwwww RUNNN.
    Lmao after 1 game jeeze get a hold of yourselves, will it be a struggle to make the playoffs likely, but i still think the boys can do it.

  • Serious Gord

    The blender is TMC’s biggest flaw.

    How long Before he demotes rnh and moves draisaitl up?

    We have a brittle team chemistry already. Constantly messing with lines – literally giving lines only a few minutes of playing time to gel – is incompetence and sends the message that the coach has no faith in players.