Blender bender: Edmonton Oilers bring in major shake-up for forward lines

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This in from TSN’s Ryan Rishaug, new lines for the Edmonton Oilers:

Kane McD Draisaitl
Foegele RNH Hyman
Holloway McL Brown
Erne Janmark Ryan

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My take

1. Is this change too fast? Are the coaches on a blender bender too early in the season. I think not. The Oilers have scored one even strength goal in two games. It’s not too early to try something new because what we’ve seen hasn’t been working.

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2. The major issue is that both Evander Kane and Connor Brown, McDavid’s linemates in the first two games, haven’t played well. Both look like they’re still shaking off rust from last season when both suffered major injuries. The question is whether or not both will fully recover. That’s an unknown. For now, they were limiting McDavid’s effectiveness.

3. Warren Foegele has been bumped into the Top 6 in place of Brown. That works for me. He and Holloway have been Edmonton’s two most effective wingers so far.  Foegele has come out flying, creating a number of Grade A shots off his tenacious forecheck.

4. Foegele has made a major contribution to five Grade A shots at even strength in the first two games, four of them shots of his own. Brown has made major contributions to just two, one of them his own shot. Kane has made just one major contribution to a Grade A shot. He’s the forward I’m most concerned about, as he’s yet to find his pre-wrist injury form. It may take some time. But he’s also 32 years old and he’s a power forward. We’ve seen plenty of power forwards at that age fall down due to age and injury and not get back up again, so to speak, not return to their former level. Kane still provides much in the way of hitting and aggression and we’ve also seen flashes of his old self where he’s made some fine plays. But can he execute consistently under pressure and at speed? I’m uncertain.

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5. The downsides of this move? Draisaitl was crushing it leading his own line as a centre, with Zach Hyman and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins thriving on his wing. Edmonton will lose that effective line combo for now. The third line of Ryan McLeod, Dylan Holloway and Foegele has also played well, but now that line-up is also disrupted. I suspect Brown will do well in the third line role, though, so I’m not as worried about that change. It’s also imperative to find some linemates who can work well with McDavid. Putting Draisaitl on his wing is a decent bet, but can Kane keep up? Again, we’ll see.

Staples on politics

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Amarjeet sohi
Mayor Amarjeet Sohi clarifies his social media remarks about the war in Gaza during a news conference at Edmonton city hall on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023. Photo by David Bloom /Postmedia

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