Latest sports news

Oilers’ Line Blending Exposed in Blowout Loss to Maple Leafs


The Edmonton Oilers are well on their way to the postseason after bouncing back from a terrible start to the 2023-24 campaign. As they try to find the right combinations for the playoffs to give themselves the best opportunity to push for a Stanley Cup, head coach Kris Knoblauch attempted something new in the Oilers’ recent matchup against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Oilers have played well with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl on separate lines. Still, Knoblauch decided to put them with Zach Hyman on the first line in hopes of stacking their top line and dominating the Maple Leafs, but that is the exact opposite of what happened.

The Oilers were dominated from start to finish, with the eventual final score being a blowout 6-3 loss. While the first line played well, and Hyman scored his 49th goal of the season, the rest of the lineup did not play well. It never works to change what’s been working, but Knoblauch decided to do that for some reason. Changing his lineup against a strong opponent was a bad decision from the beginning, and while I was confident it wouldn’t work, I didn’t think the game was going to go as roughly as it did. 

Knoblauch Needs to Split McDavid and Draisaitl

While putting two players with strong chemistry together on the power play at even strength would seem logical, it doesn’t make sense with McDavid and Draisaitl. The Oilers don’t have the strength throughout the rest of their lineup to afford not having one of them carry their own lines. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is a strong centreman who played well alongside Ryan McLeod and Warren Foegele, but that line wasn’t strong enough to produce their own offense. The Oilers play better when they have McDavid and Draisaitl on separate lines, and it was proven to be the wrong call last game as the Maple Leafs shut down their new top line with ease and had quickly gone up 5-0 before the Oilers started to show signs of life. 

Connor McDavid Edmonton Oilers
Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

It doesn’t make any sense why Knoblauch would change the lines again. I understand trying to get Hyman to the 50-goal plateau against his former team, but that shouldn’t have been the sole reason behind his line changes. It makes even less sense if that wasn’t the case and Knoblauch was trying to try something new. As a team looking to build momentum heading into the playoffs, a 6-3 loss stemming from a terrible coaching decision doesn’t help morale heading into the postseason whatsoever. 

Oilers Need Depth to Step Up for Playoffs

If the Oilers want a chance at winning their first Stanley Cup in 34 years, they need their depth to step up in a big way. Evander Kane, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Adam Henrique all need to elevate their game at both ends of the ice during the playoffs to help make the Oilers a tough team to play against. They can’t rely on three players to carry them through the postseason, so they need everyone to pull their weight and give their all every game, making them hard to play against. 

Related: Oilers Bolster Prospect Pool With James Stefan Signing

I have no worries that the Oilers will find the right lineup combination and make a deep run into the playoffs, but this was a really tough game for them. Losing to a Canadian rival is never fun for anybody, but they’ll have to move on and try to finish the season strong. Hopefully, they find the right lineup combination to help bring them a championship and can finally get over the hump with a Stanley Cup victory.

Source link

🤞 Daily Sports Newsletter

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.