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Edmonton Oilers deploy new look lines at Sunday practice

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Photo credit:Oilersnation
Zach Laing
6 months ago
The Edmonton Oilers have blended their lines at a Sunday afternoon practice, a day after dropping a 5-1 decision to the Florida Panthers.
While the Oilers’ defensive pairings remained as they have for some time, head coach Kris Knoblauch and co. have mixed up the forward lines.
The most notable change is the breaking up of the Oilers top line of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Connor McDavid and Zach Hyman, moving Nugent-Hopkins to the second line, with Evander Kane elevating to the first.
Nugent-Hopkins skated alongside Leon Draisaitl and Warren Foegele, while the Oilers’ third line was made up of Mattias Janmark, Ryan McLeod and Connor Brown.
After Saturday’s loss, Koblauch said the club’s middle-six isn’t where they wanted it to be, and noted they were open to mixing the lines up.
“We’ve been kind of changing lines there a little bit, moving guys around. We’d like to get a little more production there,” said Knoblauch. “I think our fourth line has been chipping in, obviously the first line has been scoring at a tremendous rate.
“Tonight, they only had one, but they could’ve had many more. Yeah, we’re trying to find a little more balanced scoring through there and generate a little more. We’ll just have to evaluate that.”
We’ve seen renditions of this top-six in the past two seasons, but there hasn’t been much success. In 78 minutes of 5v5, the top line has been outscored 7-6, and outshot 52-35. Over the same timeframe at 5v5, the second line has shown better outscoring the opposition 5-1 and outshooting opponents 25-16 across 40 minutes.
McDavid always gets his offensively, even when his line may not be driving 5v5 play at the best rate, but Draisaitl hasn’t quite clicked this season. His 5v5 points per hour rate of 2.09 is below the average of his past three seasons, 2.51, but what’s promising is he’s continuing to drive play this year. With him on the ice at 5v5, the Oilers have controlled 53.49 percent of the shot attempt share, and 56.73 percent of the expected goal share, despite an actual goal share of 42.5 percent.
What’s interesting is that Draisaitl’s on-ice shooting percentage sits at just 7.36 percent, 2.88 percent below the 10.24 percent rate he averaged the three years prior.
Nonetheless, he should begin to rebound soon, and this line might afford him a chance to.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@thenationnetwork.com.

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