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BLOG: Chiasson, Khaira and Neal linking skillsets on serviceable line

"All three of us aren't afraid to go on the forecheck and get our hands dirty in the corners. I think all three of us are able to make plays," Jujhar Khaira said

by Jamie Umbach /

EDMONTON, AB - The line of Alex Chiasson, Jujhar Khaira and James Neal for the Oilers has utilized a simple, physical approach over the last three games that's yielded results.

The deployment of their physical, hungry and vocal game has led to the trio earning opportunities in the right areas and recording seven points in the four games since the line's assembly on March 3 when Neal made his return to the lineup from an ankle injury.

"All three of us aren't afraid to go on the forecheck and get our hands dirty in the corners," Khaira said from the Oilers Hall of Fame Room on Tuesday. "I think all three of us are able to make plays. The three games I've played with those two have been a lot of fun.

"I feel like there's always support around me and we're always talking. I think communication makes a huge difference, so that's one of the big things so far."

Video: OILERS TODAY | Let's Get Physical 03.10.20

Khaira has reverted back to his natural centre position on the line, allowing the 25-year-old Surrey, B.C. product to be more active throughout every shift.

"I think it's one of those things for me, even battling defensively, that keeps me engaged," he said. "I think there are times when you're playing wing, especially for me, you get caught standing still. This way kind of forces me to get up and down the ice. It's something I'm used to from when I played in the minors and junior, and I really enjoy it."

There was a time last season when Chiasson thought he was unstoppable.

With three goals in his last four games, including a deflected effort against the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday, he's hoping he and his linemates can help recapture some of his '18-19 career-year magic of 22 goals and 38 points.

"I've been in the playoffs before, and so has James," Chiasson said. "Jujhar is a good player and plays that game as well. So if you try to complicate things, sometimes it doesn't work your way.

"Simplify things, get on pucks first, and at the end of the day there's so many guys in this league that can play 1-on-1 hockey. I think we've kind of figured out with our line that if we can play a 'give-and-go' type of hockey, get open and move it, it seems to be working for us."

Video: RAW | James Neal 03.10.20

As Chiasson and Neal can attest to through experience, a line like theres is tailormade for grinding opponents down in the postseason.

"Games are just going to continue to get harder and harder as we go here, as you can see," Neal, a competitor in two Stanley Cup Finals with Vegas and Nashville, said. "I think when you get into a seven-game playoff series, it's going to take a toll on you.

"For us, we need to be a line that's in there and physical wearing down their d-men and forwards."

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