That was the most miserable, frustrating, and disappointing slog of Edmonton Oilers hockey we’ve witnessed in quite some time.
We’ve seen some very, very ugly lows from this organization over the past decade-and-a-half, games in which fans threw their jersey on the ice and stretches where the team was completely unwatchable, but that three-game pounding at the hands of the Maple Leafs was a different kind of disappointing.
After winning 11 times in 13 games and rocketing up the standings, the Oilers found themselves within striking distance of the Leafs and the top spot in the Canadian Division. Toronto vs Edmonton was billed as a battle of the Canadian heavyweights, but it ended up with the Leafs shoving the Oilers back down to the middle of the pack.
The Oilers are now 14-11 for the season and they sit fourth in the North in terms of points percentage, behind Toronto, Winnipeg, and Montreal. Right behind them are the Calgary Flames, who own an 11-11-2 record.
There’s a Battle of Alberta coming up on Saturday night and the Oilers need to put that ugly showing behind them and get back on track. The Flames will undoubtedly be charged up playing for Darryl Sutter, their new-but-old coach for the first time.
That brings us to this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday FRIDAY EDITION question. What would you do to spark the team? Can Dave Tippett do so by mixing up the lines and pairings? Is this a big picture thing that goes upstairs to Ken Holland?
Nugent-Hopkins – McDavid – Puljujarvi
Kahun – Draisaitl – Yamamoto
Shore – Khaira – Archibald
Neal – Haas – Chiasson
(Ennis, Turris, Nygard out)
Nurse – Barrie
Lagesson – Larsson
Jones – Bear
Russell – Bouchard
The big change here is that Nugent-Hopkins is back on McDavid’s wing as the DRY line experiment has come to an end after just one game. Ethan Bear is now on a pairing alongside Caleb Jones while Tyson Barrie has shifted up to the top pairing with Darnell Nurse and the bottom-six has been rejigged.
Personally, I would like to see Nugent-Hopkins remain with Draisaitl and Yamamoto. That line was dynamite last season and it’ll take them more than one game for them to find some chemistry. This would also give Tippett the chance to see what Kahun can do on McDavid’s wing, which could be a worthwhile change of scenery.
When it comes to the blueline, Lagesson drawing back in alongside Larsson for the first time since Feb. 15 should help give Edmonton a steady, defensive zone pairing. Nurse and Barrie had success together while Bear was injured, but it also leaves Tippett with the reality of having one of Bear, Jones, or Bouchard sitting out unless he rolls with seven defenders.
What say you, Nation? Will this shuffling of the lines give Edmonton the spark they need to rebound in Saturday’s Battle of Alberta? If the team’s struggles persist, should Ken Holland look to make a deal to shake things up? Let us know!