Another shake up on the lines is expected today… even the defensive lines which have remained almost constant, except for the bottom pairing. The Schultz brothers (jokes) continue to play together, however.
Ryan Whitney finds himself a scratch again today. Mark Fistric slots back in and will play with Ladislav Smid. This is interesting. Smid and Fistric should make a true shut down pairing, and potentially a very tough one. Think “twin towers” (Steve Smith and Jeff Beukeboom), but a smaller version. These guys should make a big impact together, pardon the pun.
Corey Potter and Jeff Petry will pair up together, and I have to be honest, I’m not so sure about that one. Petry has played fairly well, but I still consider him to be a work in progress… and Potter.. well, that one is kinda self-explanatory. He’s been an unknown ever since tap dancing on Hall’s face. Not that I blame him on that accident, and not that I pin his gameplay on that incident either.. just giving a starting point to when he seemed to change.
EDIT: That actually might be incorrect.. sounds actually like Potter will pair up with Smid, and Petry with Mark Fistric. Also, Petry will finally get some time on the PP’s 2nd unit. It is absolutely ridiculous to me that Whitney got more PP minutes that Petry with the way Whitney has played. About time.
As far as forwards, Nail Yakupov will get a chance with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle. Now this excites me. On one hand, it is questionable whether these guys will be able to maintain possession, but I think the Nuge is looking better in that regard, and Jordan Eberle has always been strong on the puck, despite his size. In offensive situations, these guys could be quite dangerous.
Taylor Hall will play some more with Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky. The only question on that line is whether Gagner can get his shit together and win a draw or two.
Eric Belanger will slot in again, and he will simply remove Chris Vande Velde (who played decently last game), as the rest of the lines remain the same.
Khabibulin was quite good in his season debut, but I can’t see why Dubnyk wouldn’t start today, however.
The Blue Jackets are dead last in the West… so this SHOULD be one for the Oilers to win. No excuses.
OILERS LINES (PROJECTED)
Yakupov – Nuge – Eberle
Hall – Gagner – Hemsky
Hartikainen – Belanger – Paajarvi
Eager – Smyth – Petrell
Smid – Potter
N. Schultz – J. Schultz
Fistric – Petry