Coach Todd McLellan made a couple of lineup changes ahead of tonight’s Game 2 against the San Jose Sharks. The team will look to tie up the series at 1-1 tonight…
First up, a swap on the blueline will see Eric Gryba in the press box and Matt Benning making his Stanley Cup Playoff debut:
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) April 14, 2017
The second lineup shuffle will have Anton Slepyshev drawing in for Ilro Pakarinen:
Reading tea leaves…Slepyshev in for Pakarinen & Benning in for Gryba.
— Jack Michaels (@EdmontonJack) April 14, 2017
In my honest opinion, I believe that these moves will only lead to a better Oilers team tonight.
The most impactful move that was made was the insertion of Benning in place of Gryba. The knock that some people could have with this move is the fact that Benning lacks both the size and experience that Gryba boasts. This shouldn’t be too much of an issue. Gryba did not have a good game on Wednesday. He was slow, indecisive, and rather weak on the puck. Sure, he did throw a few hits here and there but, for the most part, the Oilers played better with him on the bench. Some more time in practice and the pressbox should be good for Gyba moving forward. This won’t be the last we see of him in this series….
In terms of Matt Benning, well, I am very excited for this kid. He has had a rough couple games to finish the season but, all that doesn’t matter in the playoffs. He will be fired up for the chance to prove his doubters wrong. The Russian is expected to line up with Darnell Nurse on the third pairing.
The second move involved a swap of fourth liners. Anton Slepyshev will make his Stanley Cup Playoff debut, and I couldn’t be happier. Slepy had a strong finish to the season for the club, proving to be a big-body presence with some offensive ability and I expect him to be a difference-maker in tonight’s game. His heavy shot and smooth skating are two things to look for. Slepyshev is expected to play with Benoit Pouliot and David Desharnais.
As for Pakarinen, the guy is a warrior. He will grind out day in and day out. He had a decent game on Wednesday and, like Gryba, we should be seeing him the lineup later on in the series.
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