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Oilers Make Big Changes to Blue Line Ahead of Game With Canadiens

The Edmonton Oilers are making changes to tonight’s blue line, including scratching Ethan Bear and Caleb Jones.

The Edmonton Oilers need a better performance than they showed on Saturday versus the Montreal Canadiens if they stand a chance to win. With that in mind, head coach Dave Tippett believes the Oilers best odds come with both Caleb Jones and Ethan Bear out of the lineup.

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As the Oilers made themselves available to the media ahead of their second contest with the Canadiens this season, it was learned that Bear and Jones were being scratched and Kris Russell and William Lagesson will slot in. It’s a big change and one that comes early in the season as the team tries to shake off a 1-2 start to the 2020-21 campaign.

Tippett said of Lagesson, “He had a strong camp & deserves the opportunity. He competes well & his puck game continues to improve.” The pairings for tonight’s game will probably be, Darnell Nurse with Slater Koekkoek, Russell with Tyson Barrie and Lagesson with Adam Larsson.

Keokkoek wil move over to the right side to play with Nurse and is excited for the opportunity to work with him. “I had some success on the right side last year and I’m excited for the opportunity,” Koekkoek said. Nurse is also looking forward to work with his new partner and noted that Koekkoek is a steady and experience option.

Ethan Bear Edmonton Oilers

Bear’s Demotion Shouldn’t Be Concerning

As for Bear and Jones, these demotions aren’t likely permanent. Both players haven’t ever played this many NHL games in such a short NHL career and it might have been a decision to simply rest them both and give them a chance to catch themselves and a breather without placing to much on their shoulders this early in the season.

For Bear especially, this is a player the Oilers are heavily relying on moving forward and thinking long-term is important in his development. Bear is 23 and has played 92 NHL games so far in his career. As Robin Brownlee rightfully pointed out, “There are going to be bumps in the road for both of them. This is one of them. It’s part of learning the trade. They’ll be back and they’ll be fine.”

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