GDB 44.0: Kris Knoblauch Makes Lineup Changes: “We Were Stale” (7pm MT, SNW)

Photo credit:Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
4 months ago
The Edmonton Oilers have won 14 games, in a row, but rookie head coach Kris Knoblauch isn’t taking anything for granted. The Oilers played their two worst periods during this streak v. Columbus on Tuesday. Knoblauch switched his lines for the third period, and they responded with three goals and won 4-1. Knoblauch has been very consistent with his line combinations since taking over, but he is going to stick with his third-period lines to start tonight.
It is the right decision.
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“We played our two worst periods in a long time,” said Leon Draisaitl. “We regrouped in the third, and that is what good teams do sometimes. We didn’t have it in the first 40 minutes, but we turned it on a bit and ended up winning the game.
Knoblauch is making the change because he felt things were getting stale.
“Often I think we as coaches overreact and change things too quickly when it really is up to the players to figure it out,” said Knoblauch. “There are times you are changing things up for a matchup or strategy, but last game, ultimately we just needed a change. We were stale. We needed to change things up, and they responded, and we won. So we will stick with those lines to start.”
It makes sense. The Oilers haven’t lost since December 19th. They are 14-0, and I like that Knoblauch isn’t waiting for a loss to get his player’s attention. And it isn’t like the changes will be viewed as a negative. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl enjoy playing together, and McDavid, by his standards, has been rather quiet offensively. He isn’t playing poorly by any stretch, but he’s gone eight games without a multi-point game. That is the longest stretch of his career since his rookie season.
Evander Kane, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Warren Foegele are more than capable of scoring, and Dylan Holloway has looked great since his recall. Playing him with Ryan McLeod, who has been red-hot during the winning streak, could be the foundation of a solid third line down the stretch.
No team keeps their lines together all season, and I think the change will ignite the Oilers who haven’t played as well the past few games of the streak. Why wait until they lose to try and jump start them? Knoblauch likes continuity, but he also would like to see a few different combinations, so he can go to them in the playoffs, or down the stretch if needed.


LAST 10 GAMES10-0-03-7-0
POWER PLAY%25.712.6
AVG. SHOTS/FOR34.126.3
TEAM SAVE%.909.904
CORSI FOR%55.5344.07
Numbers courtesy of Natural Stat Trick (Sv%, CF%, PDO, Shooting%, xGF% all at 5×5)




Draisaitl – McDavid – Hyman
Kane – RNH – Foegele
Holloway – McLeod– Brown
Janmark – Ryan – Gagner
Nurse – Ceci
Ekholm – Bouchard
Kulak – Desharnais
Calvin Pickard gets the start. He is 3-0 during this winning streak and has given Edmonton solid starts every time he’s been called upon. He will face a tired and injury-riddled Blackhawks team. They Oilers didn’t play very well against them in Chicago, and I suspect Pickard will have a quieter night than Stuart Skinner had in Chicago two weeks ago.
A total of 6,576 players have played 14+ NHL games, but Sam Gagner is the only one who has won 14 consecutive games twice in his career. He will go for 15 in a row twice tonight, and be one of 6,518 players who have won 15+ consecutive NHL games. The odds Gagner has been able to do this twice in his career are extremely slim.


Foligno – Kurashev – Raddysh
Blackwell – Dickinson – Anderson
Pitlick – Entwhistle – Donato
Katchouk – Sanford– Johnson
Valsic – Jones
Korchinski – Megna
Tinordi – Crevier
The Blackhawks lost 6-2 in Seattle last night and are still ravaged with injuries. Connor Bedard, Taylor Hall, Andreas Athanasiou, Tyler Johnson, Anthony Beauvillier, Nikita Zaitsev and Connor Murphy are out. They have a combined cap hit of $29.25m. Their forward group tonight has a combined cap hit of less than $20m. Rookie Lukas Reichel might draw in. The Hawks won’t skate this morning, so we won’t know their full roster until warmup.


Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Edmonton keeps winning and becomes the fifth team to win 15 games in a row. They new lines reward their coach and score six goals in 6-1 victory.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: McDavid extends his home point streak to 17 games.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Vincent Desharnais scores his second goal of the season.

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