Oilers Playoffs: Lineup changes must happen after loss to Jets

Jesse Puljujarvi #13, Connor McDavid #97, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)
Jesse Puljujarvi #13, Connor McDavid #97, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images) /

Something has to change for the Edmonton Oilers. While it might be a little too soon to talk about shaking up the lineup completely, something has to change.

The Edmonton Oilers lost game one of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last night against the Winnipeg Jets. The game was a lost cause from the first faceoff as even though Edmonton was playing well, they were not getting any bounces.

This reminded me of the play-in series against the Chicago Blackhawks. A lot of people are talking about this right now, but I want to throw in my two cents. The Oilers were a better team than the Blackhawks. They were coming off a great regular season and had the star power to win.

Then the game actually started and the Blackhawks were playing better as a team. They were doing their best to shut down the Oilers’ top stars and get some shots from the point for deflections.

Does this sound at all familiar to the series we watched start last night? Winnipeg was playing as a team. They know that Connor McDavid is their monster they need to sleigh. They know he is the best of the best. They know that they were playing horrible going into this game, and yet they just didn’t care.

One of the great things about playoff hockey is that we can sit here and talk about the matchups for days, but until the puck actually drops no one knows the outcome. Hockey is such an amazing sport that if a group of players bands together and starts playing as a team anything can happen even if they barely snuck into the postseason.

So after a game like that, something has to change. If the Oilers think they are going on a deep playoff trip after a game like that without changing anything they are mistaken.

So here is what I think the lineup could look like.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Connor McDavid – Jesse Puljujarvi

Dominik Kahun – Leon Draisaitl – Kailer Yamamoto

Josh Archibald – Ryan McLeod – Tyler Ennis

James Neal – Jujhar Khaira – Alex Chiasson

So there are a few things I want to talk about when it comes to this forward group. For starters, if the team is going to play Ryan McLeod let him actually play. McLeod didn’t break ten minutes tonight and he only took 14 shifts. It is great being able to move McDavid up and down the lineup and see what kind of impact he can heave, but let the line actually play too.

I took out Zack Kassian and opted for Tyler Ennis on the third line. Kassian played okay during game one but I think someone else needs to get an opportunity. I was thinking of playing Nygard but I do not think another young rookie with no NHL experience is going to help in the postseason.

James Neal is on my new look fourth line. Khaira and Chiasson are both physical players and Neal is one of the oldest veterans this team has. Maybe he can get behind playing that gritty style of play his lineups are used to.

Switching Kahun and Nugent-Hopkins is just to spark the top six. Obviously, the top six looked okay in game one, but they failed to score more than one goal as Pulljujarvi tallied the only goal of the night. Winning personal trophies and having regular-season success is great, but it is the playoffs where things truly heat up.