Phase 3 is underway in the National Hockey League as all 24 teams are getting ready for the tournament that kicks off on August 1st in Toronto and Edmonton.
Speaking of the latter, the Oilers are set to face off against the Chicago Blackhawks, with many pundits wondering if Connor McDavid’s team will be able to enter the postseason and prove to everyone they can be a strong contender.
Head coach Dave Tippett is using training camp to make sure his team is ready for anything and on Wednesday, he made significant changes to his lines during practice, as reported by Bruce McCurdy of the Edmonton Journal.
As you can tell from the picture above, Tippett has decided to split up the very productive trio of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Leon Draisaitl and Kailer Yamamoto.
Instead, he decided to spread his offensive power and have his first two lines balanced by sending Nugent-Hopkins alongside McDavid and replacing him with newcomer Andreas Athanasiou, who was acquired at the trade deadline. We can also notice that two other forward, usually spotted on the third line, James Neal and Alex Chiasson, are both found on the fourth to close out the offense.
Obviously the Oilers will have quiet the punch up front on each of lines when play resumes and we wonder if the Blackhawks will be able to manage all shots fired from the new formation.
Edmonton can play with his depth and we will see how much that will hurt the Hawks’ chances to move forward and if it will help the Oilers to establish themselves as a true Stanley Cup contender.