While they haven’t officially clinched a playoff spot yet, the Edmonton Oilers are going to the dance. That means they can use these final few games to try out different line combinations, make system adjustments and work on special teams. On Friday, Head Coach Dave Tippett rolled out some new lines in advance of Monday night’s game against the Winnipeg Jets.
Tippett kept the ‘DRY’ line together, with Leon Draisaitl centering Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Kailer Yamamoto. Other than that? Changes galore both up front and on the blueline. Tippett promoted Dominik Kahun to left wing on the Connor McDavid line, with Jesse Puljujarvi remaining on the right side.
“We’ll see how it goes,” Tippett said of Kahun’s promotion up the lineup. “He’s a better player playing up there (top six). He’s played most of the year with Leon but we haven’t really tried him with Connor too much. We’re looking at him there for a couple of days in practice to see how it goes.”
On Wednesday night, Oilers forward Zack Kassian was injured trying to land a hit on Montreal Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber. The result could keep Kassian out of the lineup for the remainder of the regular season. As a result, taxi squad forward Tyler Ennis skated on the third line, and looks poised to rejoin the lineup.
“He’s still getting some tests done today,” Tippett said of Kassian. “It looks like he could be out a while but I’ll maybe address that more tomorrow morning.”
Also notable for the Oilers? Center Jujhar Khaira was back at practice, rotating in on the fourth line with Devin Shore. Veteran defenseman Dmitry Kulikov, acquired at the trade deadline, was also on the ice. He was partnered up with Adam Larsson on what clearly looks to be a shutdown duo.
“I think he’s a real solid pro,” Tippett said of Kulikov. “He’s played in the League a long time and understands the game very well. He understands how we want to play. That experience will help him get up to speed as quickly as possible. He’s just a strong defender. He’s a guy that has played a lot of penalty kill, can move the puck well, has decent size. And has the ability to play against the other team’s top players. Just a real good, solid defender that we think will help our group.”
Here’s a full look at how the Oilers lined up on Friday afternoon at Rogers Place.
Dominik Kahun – Connor McDavid – Jesse Puljujarvi
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Leon Draisaitl – Kailer Yamamoto
Tyler Ennis – Gaetan Haas – Josh Archibald
James Neal – Devin Shore/Jujhar Khaira – Alex Chiasson
Joakim Nygard – Kyle Turris – Patrick Russell
Darnell Nurse – Tyson Barrie
Dmitry Kulikov – Adam Larsson
Caleb Jones – Ethan Bear
Kris Russell/Slater Koekkoek – Evan Bouchard
This n’ That:
- It’s nice to see Khaira back on the ice, but also a little scary. It was the second time in a month that Khaira was involved in a physical play and looked completely lost when he got up. At the end of the day, health is much more important than hockey. Tippett told reporters that while Khaira was cleared to skate, he has NOT been cleared for contact yet. “He’s feeling alright but I know he’s still got some more tests,” Tippett said. “He’s trying to keep his skating legs a little bit.” It’s unclear if he’d be available for Monday’s game.
- Tippett also said that defenseman William Lagesson, who was not on the ice today, underwent a “little procedure” on Thursday. He was “a little sore” on Friday and as a result was kept off the ice. The Oilers expect him to skate tomorrow and be available on Monday.
- Ryan McLeod will be out of quarantine shortly, and can skate on Sunday. As a result, he’ll be available to play on Monday night. That said, Tippett may opt to wait until Wednesday or Thursday to insert McLeod. The veteran coach admitted he “needs to see where he’s at” before making a decision.