The Oilers are splitting up Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl

Edmonton Oilers Connor McDavid Leon Draisaitl
Photo credit:Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
1 month ago
The Edmonton Oilers are set to deploy Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl on separate lines.
It comes after the Dynamic Duo played alongside Zach Hyman on the top line for Games 2 and 3 against the Canucks. While they dominated in Game 2, with both having one goal, three assist performances, they struggled to score in Game 3.
Oilers head coach Kris Knoblauch has shuffled the lines as a result. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins returns to McDavid and Hyman’s wing, while Draisaitl is set to play alongside Dylan Holloway and Evander Kane.
“Tonight, it’s going to start like that and we can go back and forth throughout the game, depending on how the flow is and how things are playing out,” said Oilers head coach Kris Knoblauch.
The Oilers’ new-look top line is nothing new. They were nothing short of dominant at 5v5 on the ice together across 467 minutes, outscoring the opposition 34-20 for a 62.96 percent goal share and 65.17 percent expected goal share. They also controlled 61.83 percent of the shot attempt share and 63.9 percent of the scoring chance share.
In short, they were one of the NHL’s best lines, and for as good as their numbers were with Evan Bouchard and Mattias Ekholm as the defencemen for 109 of those minutes, they also saw succcess with Darnell Nurse and Cody Ceci across 54 minutes, breaking even in goal each way at 5-5, while controlling 60.48 percent of the expected goal share, 58.12 percent of the shot attempt share and 59.09 percent of the scoring chances.
What’s interesting tonight is that the Oilers appear ready to roll 11 forwards and seven defencemen, with Philip Broberg potentially drawing into the lineup.
“That’s an option he could play,” said Knoblauch. “I think (going 11/7) takes away a little bit of the flow and rhythn from the defencemen, just situations not going out there regularly with your partner.
“But on the flip side of it, offensively with the forwards, it’s a lot easier to double shift a 97 or 29 and have them back out on the ice right away with another line. There’s pros and cons to it.”
The rest of the Oilers’ lineup is up in the air as to their alignment, as Draisaitl, Adam Henrique, Evander Kane, and Mattias Ekholm were missing. According to Knoblauch, Henrique won’t draw into the lineup, while the other three had maintenance days.

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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