According to Edmonton Oilers hockey play-by-play broadcaster Jack Michaels, the Oilers are running with a different look in their top six tonight. Instead of the top line of Dominik Kahun with Connor McDavid and Jesse Puljujarvi, the Oilers will move Kailer Yamamoto up to play with the dynamic duo of Leon Draisaitl and McDavid. On the second line will be Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Ryan McLeod and Puljujarvi.
This is interesting for a few reasons.
First, head coach Dave Tippett seems to have decided that one loss against the Calgary Flames was enough to warrant a change. While it could be that he wants to get a different look and experiment with combinations heading into the playoffs, that he’s stuck Draisaitl and McDavid back together means he’s going for the win.
Second, that Kahun is not just off the top line, but out of the top six hints that Tippett didn’t love what he saw there from the on-again, off-again forward. In his first game on the top line, Kahun had some chemistry with McDavid. In the second game, they were held off the scoresheet and looked rather ordinary.
Third, Tippett wants to give Yamamoto a boost offensively and it sounds like he thinks putting him on that top line could help him gain more confidence and spark his offense. Tippett explained:
“He’s been solid. As far as scoring and capitalizing on opportunities, I think he’d like to be a little farther ahead than he is. His game is a solid game, he’s a smart player, plays hard in the guts of game and is very reliable in a lot of situations. His game has been solid and I think the offensive part of his game, he would like to contribute a little more.”
McLeod Gets a Golden Opportunity
McLeod is getting a bump after just his second game with the team and his first look in the top-six of the Oilers lineup.
Some will argue Mcleod has been stellar so far (as stellar as one can be without points) so why not give him a shot? Others will argue this is a player that might be getting too much thrown at him too soon. He is skilled and skilled players tend to play better with other skilled players. The fit here with Puljujarvi and Nugent-Hopkins could work.
You’ve got a smooth skater (McLeod) with a strong two-way player (Nuge) and a forechecking machine who can finish (Puljujarvi). The ingredients are all there. Tippett said of his decision to give McLeod a look, “We’re trying him there tonight… he’s been solid and we want to work him around the lineup & see where he fits.”
Tippett has already given McLeod a few extra looks in the two games he’s been with the team. In the Oilers 6-1 win over Winnipeg, Tippett sat McDavid in the third a lot more often than he normally would have and many of those minutes went to McLeod who has impressed so far. The Oilers being in the spot they are in is a perfect situation for Tippett throw McLeod extra minutes and see how he responds.
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