Oilers coach Knoblauch doing a press conference.
Photo credit: NHL.com

Oilers fans have serious complaints on recent move by Coach Knoblauch

Published March 27, 2024 at 2:53 PM

Oilers coach Knoblauch has really been shaking up the lineup in recent weeks, and now fans are getting concerns about chemistry heading into the playoffs.

In the last few weeks, Knoblauch has been regularly deploying an entirely new lineup nearly every game. Sometimes it's not major changes, but nearly every night players have moved up and down the lineup, with nothing really becoming consistent. Now, plenty of fans are beginning to have the concerns that players aren't developing chemistry or getting enough reps with their prospective linemates in the playoffs.

There's a few combinations of forward lines that the Oilers have had great success with, like the Nuge-McDavid-Hyman line, but we haven't seen them get consistent playing time in recent weeks. Instead, Knoblauch has dipped into loading up McDavid and Draisaitl, something plenty of Oilers coaches of the past have tried. The pair is a lethal combination, but it comes at a massive drop off in talent on lines one and two. The data, along with plenty of fans suggest that the Oilers are better off with McDavid and Draisaitl separated.

Coach Knoblauch has explained himself though that this is entirely intentional. He's really pushing the team to try new combinations, which does have some merit in itself to push players to compete in uncomfortable in some situations. Really though, it seems like Knoblauch's just trying to evaluate the team as much as possible before locking down a playoff lineup in early April, and then sticking with those lines.

We will be fitting the pieces together for probably a couple more weeks. We still have 16 more games, and probably when we hit April, we'll be more looking like a playoff roster, less juggling the lines hopefully.

Now is the best time to push the team and try new line combinations, but developing chemistry and consistency is still important - and Knoblauch knows that. When he first arrived as head coach in Edmonton, Knoblauch made a point of maintaining lines to develop chemistry. His comments in last week's press conference also indicate that he'll dial in a consistent lineup for a few weeks before game 1.

From his line juggling, we'll know that Knoblauch has to find a meaningful role for Evander Kane to contribute, balance the first two lines and find a consistent winger for Draisaitl, and lock in combinations for the bottom six. It'll be plenty of work, but they have enough history now to begin constructing their playoff lines.
March 27   |   348 answers
Oilers fans have serious complaints on recent move by Coach Knoblauch

Should the Oilers start playing their playoff lines consistently?

Yes, need to develop chemistry25272.4 %
No, still have time8023 %
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