As we work ourselves through the NHL’s return to play plan and inch closer to having the NHL get back on the ice, I wanted to start a discussion about what Dave Tippett is going to do on the blue line, specifically in the 3RD slot. In this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday (Friday Edition), I’m asking you to put on your coach’s cap, grow your own TipStache, and make a decision on whether you’d go with Mike Green or Matt Benning on defence for the play-in series against Chicago?
With Phase 3 of the NHL’s return to play plan scheduled to kick off on July 10th provided that they’re able to do so safely, I wanted to take a look at the defence and ask you fine folks see the d-pairings being put together. A few weeks back, Gregor looked at the roster decisions that Dave Tippett will have to make whenever the league is able to get up and running again, and when it came to the defenceman, he felt as though Mike Green may have the edge:
Edmonton will have eight NHL calibre defenceman. A luxury at the start of the playoffs, and if they go on a deep run they will need all of them.
Four D-men will for sure be in the lineup: Oscar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse, Adam Larsson and Ethan Bear.
You almost forget Mike Green plays for the Oilers, because he only played two games before injuring his knee. However, he played just under 20 minutes in his second game, which shows you how much Tippett and Jim Playfair like him. He skates well and is an excellent puck mover. He will be the third right-shot defender. He played more minutes/game in his short stint with the Oilers than Matt Benning.
Mike Green: 50GP – 3G, 8A for 11 points – 20:53 in average TOI, 46.4 CF%, 48.1 oZS%
Matt Benning: 43GP – 1G, 7A for eight points – 13:14 average TOI, 48.4 CF%, 46.4 oZS%
Mike Green: 76GP – 10G, 27A for 37 points – 22:58 in average TOI
Matt Benning: 12GP – 0G, 3A for three points – 17:09 average TOI
It goes without saying that Mike Green has a lot more experience in the playoffs than does Matt Benning, and I wonder how much the additional 64 games will factor into Dave Tippett’s decision? How much will the potential to create offence factor into the decision? What about the fancy stats? How about the fact that Benning is likely more comfortable playing within the Oilers’ system? Thankfully, these tough questions need answers and that’s why you, the reader, are here to make a decision on how this is going to play out.
WHAT SAY YOU?
Now that you’ve had a chance to spend a few minutes thinking about it, I want to know which defenceman you’d start at 3RD if you were coaching the Edmonton Oilers. Maybe you think Dave Tippett should start Matt Benning because he’s been with the team a lot longer, knows the systems better, and has more familiarity with Kris Russell on his left side? Maybe you think Mike Green should get the nod because he has more playoff experience and played through more pressure-packed series before? Maybe you think that the 3RD position doesn’t even matter that much and that there’s a good chance both guys will get some playing time before all is said and done? Maybe you’ll go off the board and suggest that it’s actually Evan Bouchard who should be given a chance to play over the other two?
In this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday (Friday Edition), I want you to make the call on whether or not you think Dave Tippett should go with Mike Green or Matt Benning in the 3RD slot for when this 24-team playoff tournament gets going? What say you, Nation?