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Oilers coach Knoblauch makes more shocking lineup changes at practice


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Liam McCormick
February 8, 2024  (5:31 PM)
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Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch doing media availability
Photo credit: NHL.com

After losing for the first time in the last seventeen games, Oilers' coach Knoblauch was out making sweeping changes to the lines today at practice. Earlier it was revealed Corey Perry would be joining the top six, but now even more shocking changes have come out.

According to line rushes at practice, Knoblauch is breaking up all the defensive pairings that have remained relatively consistent through the year, with the biggest change being the breakup of the Ekholm-Bouchard pair.
The new pairings will see Nurse with Desharnais, Ekholm with Ceci, and Kulak with Bouchard. Since Knoblauch took over, the forward lines have changed fluidly, but the defence has remained consistent until now.
In the last game, Cody Ceci got exposed for some of his shortcomings against one of the top teams in the league in Vegas. Perhaps these pair shufflings could be about balancing the talent across the defence, and tasking Ekholm to shelter Ceci on the ice. Desharnais can also play defensively to cover Darnell Nurse, and Evan Bouchard could be dominant in sheltered third pair minutes.
We'll see how the defence pair shakeups pair out, because right now it seems like a questionable decision. Specifically the Ekholm-Bouchard pairing was one of the greatest in the league, and breaking that up comes with a risk. However, Knoblauch hasn't pressed a wrong button yet with the team, and he definitely has wanted the benefit of the doubt with moves like this.
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Oilers coach Knoblauch makes more shocking lineup changes at practice

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