The Edmonton Oilers have not gotten much of anything going at five-on-five in their last two games. The club scored just one five-on-five goal in their two losses to the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday and Monday. As a result, Head Coach Dave Tippett mixed his lines heading into the third period on Monday.
Could those changes bleed into tonight’s game with the Toronto Maple Leafs? Or, will Tippett use the reasoning that it is just the fifth game of the season and keep rolling the same top-six that he put together early in training camp?
“You’re just trying to get a spark there somewhere,” Tippett said when asked about switching the lines up postgame on Monday night. “We’re trying to find something, you know? We’ll see how it goes.”
Many have been calling for Tippett to reunite his most dangerous line from a season ago. That trio featured Leon Draisaitl centering Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on his left and Kailer Yamamoto on his right. The line was split up in advance of the club’s play-in series against Chicago, and has not seen any time early this season.
If Tippett were to reunite them, it would open up at least one spot on the wing of Connor McDavid. Perhaps that spot could be filled by free agent addition Dominik Kahun, who currently is on Draisaitl’s left wing.
Those aren’t the only two spots where changes could be made. Tyler Ennis was scratched on Monday night, and could return to the lineup as the Oilers look for their first five-on-five goal from the bottom-six this season.
On the powerplay, Alex Chiasson could be in danger of getting scratched. James Neal is close to a return and could be ready to go as early as tonight. He’d almost certainly replace Chiasson on the powerplay in that case.
Defensively, Tippett will likely want to get Ethan Bear back into the lineup after scratching him against the Canadiens. It’s also possible that Evan Bouchard, who was outstanding in Sweden this fall, could be close to getting his first look in the Holland/Tippett era.
How the Oilers form their lineup tonight will certainly be interesting after two poor outings.