The game against Dallas saw Lander on waivers, injured Hendricks and Caggiula in, Pouliot and Letestu benched. This jumbled up the lines, but the result was a lot of chemistry.
Essentially, the Oilers now have four scoring lines that are well-balanced. Four. Every line has a skilled checker, a two-way centreman, and a skilled winger.
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This was also the first time we saw McDavid and rookie Puljujarvi on a line together and despite my misgivings on the idea, it worked really really well with McDavid's first hat trick and Puljujarvi getting two assists. He's able to keep up with the captain, something no one else on the team could do. Lucic is the Deputy here, but he needs to step up to protect his Captain. It's what he was hired to do.
This line held their own, despite no points. I've always thought Nuge and Ebs should stick together with their history. Eberle hadn't been working out as well for McDavid due to foot speed. Maroon can play on any line, score, fight, what have you.
Such a strange mix of players but it worked until Kassian took a dumb 4 minute penalty with the lead. Slepy and Drai were able to provide assists to Klefbom's goal. Many Russians prefer playing on their offside (Ovechkin, Yakupov) and while Slepy and Drai's forehand sticks don't match on passes skating forward, with a stop in the offensive zone and pass back to the defense, the puck is then protected on the outside with the boards, allowing you to even pass off the boards easier.
I love this line. It could easily be a 3rd line as well. I won't miss Lander, but we all missed Hendricks. He's the checker here and while he may not be able to keep up with The Drake and Pitty, those two showed excellent chemistry together.
All three lines can have a checker to get the puck and dish to a centre, who passes to a winger for a shot and rebound (Puljujarvi and McDavid) or pass and shot (Caggiula to Pitlick).
Pouliot hasn't scored in a very long time and Letestu has even registered a shot on net in forever. McLellan isn't playing favourites, even for veterans, that's for sure. I could see Pouliot slotting in for Kassian on the third line putting Slepyshev back on the right.
Despite the good mix, what the Oilers now lack are good penalty killers, which Lander and Letestu are. This will be the difficult part going forward, so the Oilers need to stay out of the box and not having Pouliot and Kassian take dumb penalties, is likely why McLellan keep one of them out of the lineup.
With Lander down in Bakersfield, is Letestu now the 13th forward?