When the Oilers were looking to gain a spark in their game last night in St. Louis, Head Coach Todd McLellan tweaked the forward combinations a bit. On Friday, those tweaks were evident again at practice.
The coach broke up the pair of Connor McDavid and Taylor Hall and moved Anton Slepyshev with Anton Lander and Nail Yakupov. Lauri Korpikoski skated with McDavid and Benoit Pouliot.
“I’ll tinker a fair amount until we find combinations,” said McLellan. “We didn’t win last night. I thought there were some moral victories in the game for us, but that doesn’t get us points. After re-watching the game and looking at the amount of offence we created, it was limited. Not a lot of guys had good looks at the net and we’re still trying to find the right combinations. In particular, I’m not sure Taylor and Connor have connected well, even throughout exhibition seasons. So maybe we give them a different look and see if we can find something that they’re comfortable with and we’re comfortable with.”
McLellan also says line combinations are dictated by what the opponent ices against them.
“Each night as we approach different teams they’re going to have different combinations and different thought processes as far as who they want to match up with and who their defensive pairings are too. We’ve got to think about that a bit.” he said.
The players understand the moving around and the mixing and matching, given how young the season is.
“It’s still early in the year so we’re still trying to find combinations,” said Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who was on a line with Hall and Teddy Purcell on Friday. “At the end of the game yesterday he tweaked a little bit so I think he just went with what he finished off with yesterday. I think guys all over are able to play with each other. It’s a good thing about our lineup.”