As we work ourselves through the NHL’s return to play plan and inch closer to a summer edition of the playoffs kicking off at Rogers Place, I wanted to start a discussion about what the line combinations might look like as we get closer to the play-in series against Chicago. In this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday (Saturday Edition), I’m asking you to put on your coach’s cap, grow your TipStache, and make a decision on who plays with who for the start of our 2020 playoff run?
While there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that this is going to be the strangest NHL playoffs of all time, that hasn’t stopped me from getting excited about watching the boys get back on the ice to do their thing again. In fact, as the Oilers release more photos and videos of players returning to Rogers Place, I can already feel the anticipation for playoff hockey building up inside of me. I want wings, I want beers, and I want to fake high-five someone that’s just as pumped as I am. Is it pre-mature considering what’s going on in the world? Perhaps. But I can’t help but feel my heart go pitter-patter at the thought of Connor McDavid flying down the wing with the puck at superhuman speeds, or celebrating one of Nuge’s low-snipe goals with his patented fist pump celebration. And while there’s certainly a possibility that the NHL is unable to get back underway, let’s assume for the purposes of this exercise that the boys are going to play and that there are line combo decisions that will have to be made.
When the Oilers last faced off against Winnipeg on March 11th, these were the line combinations that Tippett ran with:
Ennis – Draisaitl – Yamamoto
RNH – McDavid – Kassian
Athanasiou – Sheahan – Archibald
Neal – Khaira – Chiasson
Nurse – Bear
Klefbom – Larsson
Jones – Benning
Now, it’s important to remember that in that last game against Winnipeg, the Oilers were without Mike Green and Joakim Nygard due to injury while Kris Russell was out as a healthy scratch. With those three additional players available for this play-in series against Chicago, maybe the way you put your lines together will change?
WHAT SAY YOU?
Now that you’ve had a chance to spend a few minutes thinking about how you’d put your lineups together, I want to know how you’d put together your lines based on the players we have available. As we discussed in an earlier WWYDW, maybe you think Matt Benning should get the call over Mike Green based on his knowledge of the systems? 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 Mike Smith should be the starter over Kostco because he has played in the playoffs before, including a strong performance with the Flames in 2019? Maybe you think the Nuge-Draisaitl-Yamamoto line should be reunited and that Athanasiou or Ennis should be given a chance with McDavid and Kassian? Maybe you’re a huge Gaetan Haas guy and think he needs to play? Seeing as we love to spend time on this website talking about line combinations, I want to know what you think would be the ideal roster to play when the Edmonton Oilers face off against the Chicago Blackhawks.
In this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday (Saturday Edition), I’m asking you to make the call on how you’d put together the Oilers’ line combinations for when they face off against Chicago? What say you, Nation?