It’s been 14 years since the Edmonton Oilers had a dream line-up, one with the depth and requisite skill to challenge for the Stanley Cup, but we may see such a team iced tonight against the Winnipeg Jets.
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This full strength of the Oilers line-up will only be in full force when both Kailer Yamamoto and Oscar Klefbom return to the line-up. But the Edmonton roster will be bolstered by the return of Zack Kassian tonight, along with the possible return of Kris Russell.
“He’s close but he won’t play,” Oilers head coach Dave Tippett told the Edmonton media today in regards to Yamamoto. “Hopefully we get him back Monday or on the trip some time… The way he plays, the tenacity he plays with, we want to make sure that there’s no setback so we want to give him a couple of extra days here.”
Kassian on, Khaira off checking line, which is huge
The return of Kassian isn’t a small thing on this Oilers roster, mainly because it means Riley Sheahan and Josh Archibald will not team up with Jujhar Khaira on the checking line. It’s long been my contention that Sheahan and Khaira are too similar — two big, slower players without much offensive game (with Sheahan being a much better version of this player type) — and that the line leaks Grade A chances and goals against when those three are on the ice.
We see this in Natural Stat Trick data.
In the 44 even strength minutes that Sheahan and Archibald have played with Kassian, they have scored one goal for and given up not one.
In the 68 minutes that Sheahan and Archibald have played with Joakim Nygard, they have a 50% goals for percentage, two goals for, two goals against.
In 35 minutes with Patrick Russell, they are zero goals for zero goals against.
In the 158 minutes, they’ve played with Khaira, they have have 25 GF%, four goals for and 12 goals against. Ouch!
The line-up for tonight will likely be a reworking of Friday’s practice lines:
Tippett pointed out the race is close but his players are excited to be pushing forward.