The Edmonton Oilers Need A Lot More From Their Third And Fourth Lines


After a hot start, the Oilers have been cooled off in recent days.  The Oilers are 2-3 on their current six game road trip, and have lost three of their last four. You can’t really blame the goaltending, as both Khabibulin has been tearing things up, and Dubnyk has played well on most occasions in relief

So what needs to be changed?

While it would be great if Ryan Smyth scored a hatty every night and ride his twig into the night, that’s not going to happen.  Production needs to come from everywhere, not just the first and second lines.

The following is a list of Oiler forwards that have appeared predominately on lines three and four throughout the season (mininum 10 GP) along with their production.

  • Sam Gagner (3RW) – 10 GP, 0-2-2
  • Eric Belanger (3C) – 16 GP, 0-2-2
  • Ben Eager (4LW) – 12 GP, 0-1-1
  • Magnus Paajarvi (3/4LW) – 15 GP, 0-1-1
  • Lennart Petrell (4RW) 14 GP, 1-1-2
  • Anton Lander (4C) 16 GP, 0-1-1

A little more. Photo courtesy Andy Devlin / Edmonton Oilers

OUT OF SIX FORWARDS, THERE IS ONE GOAL SCORED.  Seriously, I’m not kidding.  Go look it up if you think I’m pulling your string.

These are six regulars on the Oilers this season, and there’s *one* goal between the six of them, and nine points total.  That’s an average of 1.5 points through 16 games played, which translates to less than 8 points over a full season.

You are not going to make the playoffs getting that kind of production from half your forwards.

Now before you go all McSorely here, I do understand that Eric Belanger is a great faceoff guy.  I know that Lennart Petrell is good on the PK, and Ben Eager…can punch guys.  It’s just not translating to the score sheet right now, and that’s a problem.

For what it’s worth, Ryan Jones has played a lot of this season at 2RW before Ales Hemsky came back from his shoulder injury, and Jones has six points (3-3-6)

You can go on and make the argument that scoring is for lines one and two, while the bottom two lines should fill a checking/grinding/shutodown role.  While I don’t necessarily agree with this argument, I think you’ll agree that the team needs more production from these guys, checkers or not.

BRING ME LINUS OMARK

If I’m Steve Tambellini, I’ve got Linus Omark on voice activated speed dial. 

Is it too much to ask for Linus Omark at this point?  Guy’s played three games in Oklahoma City so far, and has five points.  You’re telling me you can’t sit one of these wingers and give Omark a shot?  Stop with the ‘Omark is indecisive’ nonsense.  The entire third and fourth lines have combined to score one goal.  That’s awfully indecisive if you ask me.

A QUICK NOTE ABOUT ALES HEMSKY

A lot of people have strong opinions of Ales Hemsky, pro and con.  For what it’s worth, he’s played five games this season and has more points than any of the bottom six (0-4-4).  Hemsky gets injured a lot, this is true.  When he’s in the lineup, he produces.  This isn’t an opinion. It’s a fact.

MISC

The Oilers have scored 36 goals in 16 games, or an equivalent of 2.25 goals per game.  Khabibulin has been just fantastic, the Oilers have gotten a nice surprise on defence in Corey Potter, and the first line has been lights out.  You don’t need to be a fortune teller to see that Khabibulin’s SV% isn’t going to hold at .950 for an entire season.  If the Oilers had three or four goals out of their entire bottom six, they’d have a couple more points in the standings.

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Tags: Anton Lander Eric Belanger Lennart Petrell Linus Omark Magnus Paajarvi Ryan Jones Ryan Smyth

  • gtc

    Unfortunately, I don’t think Omark will be back. Now that he’s spoken out, it feels like the Souray thing all over again. If so, the Oilers are squandering a potentially valuable asset in my opinion. Sending him to the minors does precious little to maximize his trade value. We’ll likely get very little in a trade that seems more likely than not right now.

    The Oilers lack secondary scoring but mgmt also doesn’t seem to know what they want out of the third line in particular. Mixing defensive specialists with offensive prospects doesn’t seem like recipe for success to me.

    The Oilers can carry 14 forwards at any given time. The first two lines are set. I would rather have seen the Oilers go with Gagner/Pajaarvi/Omark on the third line with Lander subbing in as needed and Belanger/Jones/Petrell on the fourth line with Eager subbing in as needed. But for whatever reason, the Oilers mgmt have gone sour on Omark after only five games. Its a shame because I really think he has a bright future in the NHL.

    • OilOnWhyte

      @gtc I’d be willing to see both of those lines. Whatever it is, the top two lines are carrying the load. 3 and 4 have got to get in somehow.

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