Reading Between the Lines–Edmonton Oilers

Reading between the lines--Edmonton Oilers

Reading between the lines--Edmonton Oilers

Okay, so here I am in eager anticipation of what line combination Patt Quinn will decide to use for the beginning of the season.  Though poker analogies have often been beaten to death in every sport including hockey, I’ve played poker for years, so I can’t resist making one just now.  Are the preseason line combinations somewhat of a ‘tell’ for what Patt Quinn’s thinking in terms of possible line combinations for the Edmonton Oilers?

Last night’s preseason game between the Edmonton Oilers and the Calgary Flames might hold a few clues.  What jumped out to most people as noticeable was how big the Oilers looked last night.  What does this tell us?  To me, it seems like Pat Quinn wanted to get a good look at some of the larger bodies or Coke machines that he has available.

Here’s the line combination from last night’s game:

  • Jacques – Horcoff – Schremp
  • Stone – Comrie – O’Sullivan
  • Moreau – Potulny – Minard
  • Stortini – Paukovich – Brennan

For whatever reason, the term, “Coke machine” is used to aptly describe hockey players that are blessed with a good combination of both height and weight–at this point, I’m still assuming that the description holds no implications for their actual level of play.  We got a decent look at some Coke machines last night with the list including:  Stortini, Brennan, Paukovich, Jacques, and maybe Ryan Stone.

What am I thinking? Well, my initial thoughts are that Quinn will ultimately ice a smaller skilled roster of players consisting of the usual suspects, albeit with likely a couple big bodies on the 4rth line.  Most likely, he will assess things from there and will to have had a good look at some of the Coke machines in the depth chart should we need to beef up our roster during the season.

What do the ‘pairings’ tell us? First, you have to look at the line combination to see who is actually paired with someone who’s a lock on a roster spot.  Well, the only actual pairings that jump out are Horcoff/Schremp, Comrie/O’Sullivan, and maybe Moreau/Potulny.  At this point, for me none of these pairings portend much in terms of predicting our line combination for the season opener.  Is Schremp getting a look for maybe a 2nd powerplay unit?  I’m not sure.  Is Potulny at least getting a look for some type of checking role with Moreau?  Again, it’s hard to say.  More importantly, is Quinn looking to see if there’s any chemistry with Comrie and O’Sullivan?  Last night at least, they looked to be an effective pairing.

Tonight’s roster of skaters for the Edmonton Oilers vs. New York Islanders:

  • Gagner-Nilsson-Hemsky
  • Cogliano-Penner-Eberle
  • Reddox-Cornet-Pisani
  • Brule-MacIntyre-Pouliot

What does this tell me? Starting with the top line…  Previously, Pat Quinn had at least toyed with the idea of splitting up Horcoff and Hemsky to create three or perhaps four balanced scoring lines.  We’ll get a look to see any potential chemistry between Gagner and Hemsky–two very intelligent players.  Nilsson’s also going to be on this line which is unusual in that there’s three solid passer/playmakers on the line that’s seemingly lacking either one of a shooter, coke can, or reliable back checker.

For the second line, the pairing that jumps out the most is Cogliano with Penner.  Eberle’s a great prospect to watch, but I am geussing that it’s just too early in his career to think that he will end up on our roster this season.  On the third line, we see the Reddox/Pisani tandem.  Pisani’s one of our few reliable penalty killers while he also has a decent shot if he’s paired with some offensive linemates.  Reddox though not nearly as popular when compared to many Oilers prospects among fans, is actually one of our more reliable 2-way players (for prospects).  On that note, it’s interesting at least to see him paired with Pisani who shares that quality–though Pisani’s on a much higher level in that regard.

As far as the last line, Brule and Pouliot are probably battling each other for one of the few remaingin roster sports this season. MacIntire himself will be among the list of players on the bubble fighting for a roster spot.

To be honest, it’s pretty early in the game to get much of a gestault for what Quinn’s really looking at in making these pairings.  However, it will be interesting to track these various line combinations during the preseason to see what clues they might hold.  Any thoughts on this?



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