The lineup and some quick thoughts after the jump.
- Yakupov - Nugent-Hopkins - Hemsky
- Paajarvi - Gagner - Eberle
- Smyth - Belanger - Jones
- Eager - VandeVelde - Petrell
The first item is that there really isn't a true number one line here, but two 1B lines. It's going to be interesting to see what happens against Minnesota - the Wild look likely to run one line anchored by Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise, and another with Dany Heatley and Mikael Granlund. The Koivu matchup is going to be the toughest; at home Krueger could choose to hard-match Belanger against them (though he hasn't done a lot of that) but on the road my guess would be that Paajarvi, Gagner and Eberle get that assignment. The good news is that the matchup against Granlund should favour the Oilers.
I really don't mind seeing Hemsky and Gagner split up. Krueger gave them a long run together, it wasn't working, and this gives both players a chance with new linemates.
It's also interesting to see Nugent-Hopkins (who by eye has been very good defensively) get Yakupov while Gagner (who by eye hasn't been as good) get Paajarvi; while there's no question Yakupov's likely to have the better career, there should also be little doubt that Paajarvi's more polished in terms of defensive responsibility at this point in time. I think it's a split that makes sense.
Overall, with Hartikainen and Hall banged up, this seems like a reasonable way to go. The Oilers will probably lose one matchup in the top-six, win the other and hope that their bottom-six can saw-off against the Wild's depth, but with Hall gone there just aren't a lot of options.