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Opening Lineup: Every Line Is A Checking Line

The last few days, we've seen some rumblings about what the opening night lineup is going to be.  Kevin Prendergast's comments in an interview with Dan Tencer have got some attention in the last few days, particularly his statement that the Oilers will enter next season "with the same team" as last year.  Lowetide has his projected opening night lines up and it's a group we have some familiartiy with.

What I'm going to do here ties togehter Lowetide's work with something else we saw earlier in the offseason - a quote that Pat Quinn gave to Jason Gregor:

At the start I want to find out the kind of depth we have. I’d be interested in playing all of our players. I’m more of a guy that thinks about handling a checking responsibility in terms of a defense pair, or maybe a defense pair and a given centre. As for matching a whole line, I think you can get confused some times. I think you can get caught up too much in the changing and sometimes I think you are telling players you are just a specialty player who can’t play in this circumstance.

What could the lines look like if Pat Quinn is determined to roll his lines?

The article linked to above (with the quote) was entitled "Every Line Is A Checking Line", and it referenced a Don Cherry quote as well.  Cherry was another coach who was no fan of matching lines; he used Don Marcotte as a shadow against tough opponents, sticking him in where needed, but for the most part he had a checker on every line.  Here's my idea of what that scenario would look like for the Oilers current group:

  • Penner - Horcoff - Hemsky
  • O'Sullivan - Gagner - Pisani
  • Moreau - Cogliano - Nilsson
  • Jacques - Pouliot - Stortini

In other words, I don't think the Oilers can ice more than two reliable lines as currently constructed, and it could be a very long season for the trio of Shawn Horcoff, Ethan Moreau and Fernando Pisani.