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BLOG: McLellan still experimenting with line combinations

by Chris Wescott / Head Writer

EDMONTON, AB - Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan once again rolled out some new-look lines at practice on Thursday. Kailer Yamamoto, who played last night on Connor McDavid's wing, was instead with Milan Lucic and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

Leon Draisaitl slid back into a familiar position on McDavid's right side, with Patrick Maroon on the left.

Ryan Strome centred Jussi Jokinen and Drake Caggiula. And the familiar trio of Jujhar Khaira, Mark Letestu and Zack Kassian remained intact, while Jesse Puljujarvi skated with Iiro Pakarinen and Chris Kelly - with Anton Slepyshev rotating in.

"A fair amount of it is trying to figure out who is going to blend and mesh with linemates," said McLellan. "Obviously, we've talked about the right-wing position since the beginning of training camp, we've moved players around and we've got seven or eight games in exhibition season to do that. The big question will be Leon is on the wing today with Connor. Well, we know he can go to that. I'm comfortable with that."

If these are the combinations that play for the Oilers on Saturday in Vancouver, look for the coaching staff to focus less on the top line and more on the other three, based on their knowledge of and comfort level with Draisaitl and McDavid's chemistry.

"We aren't looking directly at what (the top line) can produce if we use them in Vancouver on the weekend," said McLellan. "We're looking more at the other three lines and what can they get done, how they react to each other and then we'll make decisions from there. We have to be flexible, we have to be able to be reactive to good games, bad games, good individual performances, bad performances and we will be. Players have to be prepared to play with different linemates at any given moment."

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