The Edmonton Oilers did not impress by any means in their 5-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks Saturday. With unsatisfactory results, the team is a bit concerned about offence as they enter the fight for their playoff lives.
At Sunday’s practice, head coach Todd McLellan took it upon himself to switch the lines. This is what the new forward lines will look like for the road ahead:
While it is nice to see McLellan switching the lines in wake of offensive struggles, many are curious as to if the combinations will work.
Eberle, Lucic promoted
Despite struggles from both wingers, the Oilers promoted Eberle and Lucic to the first line. Perhaps this is a way to ignite change and help them break out of their respective funks. However, this combination has been seen before, and in the end, it didn’t work too well.
Lucic needs to add more offensive edge to his game. He does a good job physically, but he turns over the puck and doesn’t fight for the puck or put his body in front of the net. This is why Patrick Maroon has had reasonable success, and Lucic could as well if he followed suit.
As for Eberle, he needs to practice releasing his shot on time and playing a better, more effortful game. He appears sluggish, and this will not work if he is on the first line with the NHL’s fastest skater. Not to mention, he must work on one-timers and quick, accurate shots that will get on net. Almost half of his shot attempts this season haven’t made it on net.
Centres on Different Lines
Instead of playing Leon Draisaitl on the wing, the Oilers decided to place him on his own line. This is a good idea, because now the Oilers have centre depth all the way down each forward lines, making them a bigger threat. Now, there is someone to carry all four forward lines and improve offensive stride.
Pouliot, Nugent-Hopkins Demoted
Because of struggles from these wingers, Edmonton moved Pouliot and RNH down the lineup. Nugent-Hopkins is not displaying as much confidence or certainty in his play, and he has struggled to start the rush. Pouliot is not putting in too much effort and flounders constantly. With these players floundering, Edmonton took a different approach and moved them down the lineup.
Pouliot appears to be losing his value and his future with the team likely won’t run past this season. Expect him to hit waivers at some point or be shipped out with salary retained and just a draft pick or prospect in return.
The Oilers also reassigned Anton Lander to the Bakersfield Condors and recalled Iiro Pakarinen, who remains on the injured reserve.