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Is Ralph Krueger Seriously Thinking About Putting Nail Yakupov On The 4th Line?

That’s strange.  Let’s spread that out.

Hartikainen / Nugent-Hopkins / Eberle

Hall / Gagner / Hemsky

Eager / Smyth / Petrell

Yakupov / Belanger / Paajarvi

The Oilers also called up Chris VandeVelde to play 4C in case Belanger isn’t ready to go tomorrow (he’s slated for Sunday which means he’ll probably play for Belanger tomorrow).  Remember Anton Lander‘s bone bruise?  It’s really a broken foot.  Good thing someone did their due diligence there.

MOVING RIGHT ALONG

So here you have the line combos that were run during today’s practice in Leduc.  While it’s certainly no guarantee that the Oilers are going to run with these lines tomorrow afternoon versus Detroit, it’s something to take note of.

  • Putting Nail Yakpuov on the fourth line doesn’t rank high on my to-do list.  Matter of fact, it’s not even on the back of my to-do list.  Yakupov is currently third on this team in scoring, and although I’m happy that Teemu Hartikainen got an instant promotion onto the first line, I’m not at all pleased to see the 2012 first overall pick between Belanger (or Vandevelde) and Paajarvi.
  • If Ben Eager is coming back this weekend (as he might), why not him on the fourth line?  Don’t think I’ll get much argument out of anyone about the difference between Eager and Yakupov’s upside with the puck.

BUT THE TEAM HAS LOST FOUR IN A ROW THINGS HAVE TO CHANGE NOW

That’s somewhat misleading.  In truth, the team has lost four in a row.  But they’ve also gone 0-1-3, which, in the twisted world of the NHL, is good for three points.  They’ve done this while missing one or more of their centremen.  So no, they don’t need to change things immediately.  The team put Mark Arcobello on the first line on Wednesday night due to an injury to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, so pleas for immediate change shouldn’t be too awfully loud.  If Nugent-Hopkins is healthy enough to go tomorrow and Eric Belanger is on Sunday, that’s a big improvement over where this team was on Wednesday.

Let’s hope getting Yakupov off the fourth line is step one.

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Tags: Edmonton Oilers Nail Yakupov

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