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.
Oilers projected lineup at BOS:— Jack Michaels (@EdmontonJack) October 10, 2018
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.
Last season Caggiula-Khaira-Puljujarvi combined for 36 goals.— Jason Gregor (@JasonGregor) October 10, 2018
Rieder-Strome-Kassian combined for 32.
Could see this as Khaira gets Ozone starts and Strome line gets D zone. Not really a #3 or #4 designation per se. #Oilers
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?