GDB 10.0: THE SWITCH

Jason Gregor
February 06 2013 01:15PM

Yesterday Ralph Krueger suggested he is contemplating making a switch amongst his top two lines for tonight's tilt v. Dallas.

Which move makes more sense? Turns out it wasn't what many were thinking.

Will he move Sam Gagner between Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle, and slide Ryan Nugent-Hopkins between Nail Yakupov and Ales Hemsky, or will he stay with the duos he liked at the start of the season, Eberle with RNH, Gagner with Hemsky and swap Yakupov and Hall?

I think both moves would have merit.

The Hall/Gagner/Eberle trio had success last year, most notably Gagner's 8-point night against Chicago. Hall and Hemsky are the two best forwards right now at backing off the defenders on the rush, so keeping them on separate lines makes sense.

Right now Nugent-Hopkins has shown he is better defensively than Gagner. While RNH isn't producing like Gagner, 9-game point streak, he has shown remarkable improvement with his defensive zone coverage. If you put RNH between Yakupov and Hemsky, they likely won't be eaten up 5-on-5 like the 64/89/83 trio was.

Also, putting RNH with the Yakupov, who has been the best shooter early on, could lead to more offensive chances. The great news for Krueger is that he's the first Oiler coach in a decade who has six legitimate offensive players that he can rotate through his top-two lines.

Krueger could also throw Yakupov with RNH and Eberle, and give them better matchups, while putting Hall with Gagner and Hemsky and give them the harder minutes. Hemsky has faced the top defenders for most of his career, so he's used to it, and right now Hall's overall speed and strength make him the hardest to defend amongst the young kids.

SCRATCH THAT

Nugent-Hopkins will not play tonight. There will be some switching of lines and positions, but it will involve Mark Arcobello and Ryan Smyth.

Arcobello will have one of the best opportunities any player has had for his first NHL game. He'll play between Hall and Eberle, while Smyth will move to centre with Lennart Petrell and Darcy Hordichuk on his wings.

RNH is listed as day-to-day, and according to Krueger if this was a playoff game he'd be playing. Krueger said they expect him to play Saturday in Detroit. His shoulder is bothering him, not sure which one, but after a hard hit in OT v. Vancouver the Oilers have elected to rest him.

LINE UP

Hall/Arcobello/Eberle
Yakupov/Gagner/Hemsk
Paajarvi/Lander/Hartikainen
Hordichuk/Smyth/Petrell

Smid/Petry
N.Schultz/J.Schultz
Whitney/Potter

Dubnyk
 

The Stars roll into Rexall looking very different than last year. They have lots of new faces, young and old, and it will be interesting to see how they and the Oilers match up.

Morrow/Benn/Jagr
Ryder/Roy/Eriksson
Vincour/Eakin/Smith
Roussel/Fiddler/Nystrom

Robidas/Dillon
Daley/Rome
Oleksiuk/Larsen

Lehtonen

Alex Goligoski is a healthy scratch. He hasn't played as well as the coaches would like, so he'll take a seat upstairs.

QUICK HITS

  • Devan Dubnyk is tied for 7th in SV%, .925%, with goalies who have started at least five games. He has faced the most shots in the NHL at 295, and along with Jimmy Howard, Mikka Kiprusoff and Jonathan Quick they are the only goalies to have started every game for their team.
     
  • The Oilers are 30th in shots against. They are allowing 34.4 per game. They are 24th in shots for with 27.4/game, which ranks them 29th in SF/SA ratio at a woeful -7.
     
  • The positive for tonight is that the Stars are 30th in SF/SA ratio at an awful -9.2. The Stars are only averaging 24.6 shot per game while allowing 33.8.
     
  • Smyth, Petrell, Lander, Gagner and Paajarvi will rotate on the penalty kill.
     
  • Yakupov tweeted out a pretty neat picture of him and Jaromir Jagr. "Nail10_1993 : That was 2004 -Jagr played in Russia , in Lockout time . And it's me 11 years old Boy :) Good eh ?)))) "
  • Yakupov is excited to play one of his idols tonight.
     
  • Krueger wouldn't say for sure who would be on his first powerplay unit, but you will likely see Arcobello slide in to Nugent-Hopkins spot. I'd look at putting Ryan Smyth on the first unit in place of Shawn Horcoff, because they need to try and win the faceoff and he is good in front of the net.
     
  • The Stars have been shorthanded a league-high 50 times this year. They were preaching discipline this morning, and admitted they are leery of the Oilers powerplay. The Oilers are 2nd in PP goals, 12, and 3rd in PP% at 28.6. The Stars PK is solid at 11th, but their PP only has 4 goals on 33 chances and sit 27th at 12.1%.
     
  • Hall fought Roussel in the minors this year, and Stars analyst Darryl Reaugh called him mini-Pepe today, a Claude Lemieux reference. Roussel is great at getting under people's skin, and isn't afraid to drop the gloves to protect himself. Look for him to try and fire up the Oilers tonight.

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers are without three centres, and since most expect them to lose tonight, they will do the opposite and win, 3-2.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers will struggle in the faceoff dot, and Smyth will have the best percentage.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Early in the 2nd period, Arcobello will saucer a cross-ice pass to Eberle who scores his first goal in five games. Right after he scores Roussel will give him a cheap shot in the back. Arcobello skates in and jumps Roussel. They drop the gloves and Arcobello takes a few heavy shots. While sitting in the penalty box, they announce the goal and Arcobello's assist and the big screen shows Arcobello in the sin bin, nose leaking with a huge grin. The crowd loves it and gives Arcobello a standing ovation. 

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#101 admiralmark
February 07 2013, 10:34AM
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Yep wrote:

Trade Whit's before nobody wants him.

Too late.

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#102 Old Retired Guy
February 07 2013, 10:46AM
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Butters wrote:

Yikes, the Oilers are looking lottery teamish right now.

That's true in that every team that doesn't make the playoffs has a chance at the lottery this year.

I think they are right about where most people thought they would be ( as indicated by the recent Oilers Nation Poll that had about 70 or 75% of respondants stating exactly that).

My prediciton was 8th in the West if they stayed very healthy......13th if there were heavy injuries. With the recent rash of injuries....it looks like it might be somewhere between 10th to 12th in the West. Giving us a top 10 pick even without a lottery win. Can you say "BIG CENTER" ??

( and Tristan Jarry with one of our 2 second round picks)

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#103 Clarko
February 07 2013, 10:55AM
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It's funny how some fans expectations are so high for a team that has finished dead last or next to dead last the past 3 seasons. The Oilers sit 7th in the Conference this morning...which is hardly a failure. I think most of us realistically expected this team to finish between 7th-12th in the conference depending on injuries, growth of our younger players, and the play of Dubnyk.

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#104 Old Retired Guy
February 07 2013, 10:56AM
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admiralmark wrote:

Too late.

Gets back to the point of the NECCESSITY to have the courage to trade players when their value is high and you really want to keep them.

It's not complicated....its like the stock market...sell on the way up and buy on the way down....

Two perfect examples are Hemskey and Gagner....Hemskey has been the best Oiler for many years...and Gagner has made significant strides in the last 12 months... SO....we have to put our emotions aside and have the guts and the nerve to move them when thier trade value is high....if you are serious about getting quality in return....

Its really hard to wrap your head around trading players that have value, WHEN THEY HAVE VALUE.....but the alternative is the Whitney cunundrum!

If your serious about the need for a Big or Talented second line Center as a NECESSITY, then you have to have the balls to make the HARD choices! The alternative ( 3 pieces of our crap for one of their Stars is nonsensical) And to much wait and see / evaluation time......is DITHERING.

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#105 Old Retired Guy
February 07 2013, 11:03AM
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But lets not Panic either. And lets not use the new CBA/Salary cap as an excuse not take action on or before the trade deadline.

We need two solid deals that address our OBVIOUS needs and see us wave goodbye to 2 or 3 players that we REALLY like....You'll probably know you've done well only if it HURTS a little...

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#106 Old Retired Guy
February 07 2013, 11:14AM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

Sorry, but this is going to sting a bit.

This years draft is loaded with elite center's, the kind that dont come around very often.

I understand you as a fan wanting to win but what did you expect? to go from 29th to the playoffs? completly unrealistic.

The Oilers need a lot more skill, the need it in the bottom six, they need it in the top six.

How do you prepose you get that skill?

Players like Gagner, Petry,and Hemsky will help to get that skill, since you can only draft one elite player, then you draft and move.

this year the Oilers can draft there center and move one of those players mentioned for need.

with Klefbom showing up next year good chance a player like Petry can also be used.

the Oilers need a lot of skill.

Exactly.......We all really like Gagner, Petry and Hemsky......But we have clearly identified organizational needs....and we HAVE to give up quality to get quality.

And.....yes.....you can never have too much skill....and the Draft is deep with Centers.

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#107 nunyour
February 07 2013, 11:26AM
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Clarko wrote:

It's funny how some fans expectations are so high for a team that has finished dead last or next to dead last the past 3 seasons. The Oilers sit 7th in the Conference this morning...which is hardly a failure. I think most of us realistically expected this team to finish between 7th-12th in the conference depending on injuries, growth of our younger players, and the play of Dubnyk.

Totally agree,they are young and talented,and need to grow and mature,get stronger and smarter,but there are some good signs :Dubnyk is playing much better than last year,there looks to be some decent d-men here,smid,schultz,petry,and schultz,and up front ,hall,nug,eberle,yak,gags,but i also think fan expectations are to high.

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#108 bdiddy18
February 07 2013, 11:28AM
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Clarko wrote:

It's funny how some fans expectations are so high for a team that has finished dead last or next to dead last the past 3 seasons. The Oilers sit 7th in the Conference this morning...which is hardly a failure. I think most of us realistically expected this team to finish between 7th-12th in the conference depending on injuries, growth of our younger players, and the play of Dubnyk.

It is not about unrealistic expectations...

my point was about youth brings excitement but also brings hard lessons about reigning it in every once an a while.

the young crew needs to understand their no. 1 job is to win - period. I guarantee you some of them started this season with - "lets show the fans what we got"

so this slump is perfect for the wake up call and get it sorted.

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#109 bdiddy18
February 07 2013, 11:33AM
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Old Retired Guy wrote:

Exactly.......We all really like Gagner, Petry and Hemsky......But we have clearly identified organizational needs....and we HAVE to give up quality to get quality.

And.....yes.....you can never have too much skill....and the Draft is deep with Centers.

Sure but why not try both? Make Playoffs and Trade on draft day - If it is deep at centre - then trades will be available on draft day to get in there and draft one.

not all teams are looking for the long rebuild.

and with a short season some very good teams that slump at the wrong time might miss the playoffs - they would look to trade their pick to get an asset to use immediately.

example LA Kings say the stink it up.. they'd look for let say Nick Shultz to help out right away.

we can get a 1st rnd pick and another prospect centre.

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#110 Old Retired Guy
February 07 2013, 11:55AM
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bdiddy18 wrote:

Sure but why not try both? Make Playoffs and Trade on draft day - If it is deep at centre - then trades will be available on draft day to get in there and draft one.

not all teams are looking for the long rebuild.

and with a short season some very good teams that slump at the wrong time might miss the playoffs - they would look to trade their pick to get an asset to use immediately.

example LA Kings say the stink it up.. they'd look for let say Nick Shultz to help out right away.

we can get a 1st rnd pick and another prospect centre.

yeah maybe.....

But I would have two reservations or concerns....

1) Leary about trading proven talent for unproven talent ( even in deep draft) but if the right deal was there..then yes

2) Not a big fan of counting on Draft day transactions.....just seems that relatively few deals get done on draft day if its just through the normal negotiation process....more typically it involves some other catalyst like some player has demamded a trade etc. Seems more and more that teams are placing a higher value on 1st round draft picks and the idea of building with youth through the draft. Small example would be the Oilers inability to move up to take Samuelson last year.

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#111 Old Retired Guy
February 07 2013, 11:55AM
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bdiddy18 wrote:

Sure but why not try both? Make Playoffs and Trade on draft day - If it is deep at centre - then trades will be available on draft day to get in there and draft one.

not all teams are looking for the long rebuild.

and with a short season some very good teams that slump at the wrong time might miss the playoffs - they would look to trade their pick to get an asset to use immediately.

example LA Kings say the stink it up.. they'd look for let say Nick Shultz to help out right away.

we can get a 1st rnd pick and another prospect centre.

yeah maybe.....

But I would have two reservations or concerns....

1) Leary about trading proven talent for unproven talent ( even in deep draft) but if the right deal was there..then yes

2) Not a big fan of counting on Draft day transactions.....just seems that relatively few deals get done on draft day if its just through the normal negotiation process....more typically it involves some other catalyst like some player has demamded a trade etc. Seems more and more that teams are placing a higher value on 1st round draft picks and the idea of building with youth through the draft. Small example would be the Oilers inability to move up to take Samuelson last year.

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#112 Marcus
February 07 2013, 01:01PM
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Didn't watch the game, had to work. Just the highlights, recap, etc.

So we're only 1:40 into overtime and we have Potter and Whitney on the ice? Dubey should have been told prior OT to muckle onto the puck any chance he gets for a whistle because we're going with our 4 best D in OT.

I love Hall and Ebs, but they have to stop being so fancy and start scoring the make-able goals. Hall had all day long to stop with the puck and beat Lehtonen instead of some foolish between the legs scrimmage move. Lots to learn young guns.

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