Major questions marks for Edmonton Oilers line-up tonight

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Game Day 32: Oilers vs Flames.

Edmonton Oilers coach Dave Tippett said before the team practice today that the team’s line-up isn’t yet set, with decisions to be made later today about the line-up based on the health of players like Dominik Kahun and Devin Shore as options at centre.

Zack Kassian is “raring to go” but still needs final medical clearance.

Jujhar Khaira and Kyle Turris are out, Tippett said.

If Tyson Barrie is out, the power play time would default to Darnell Nurse, but Evan Bouchard will also be taking on this role at some point. “If Barrie can’t play tonight Nurse would probably be the first option just because he’s familiar with whqt’s going on.”

This in from TSN’s excellent young reporter Salim Nadim Valji on tonight’s Edmonton Oilers game versus the Flames: At Edmonton Oilers morning skate ahead of the Battle Of Alberta, both Jujhar Khaira AND Tyson Barrie are on the ice. Zack Kassian is skating as well… Jujhar Khaira spending most of today’s optional skate doing individual drills, including shooting, tips, and faceoffs.Per Edmonton Oilers head coach Dave Tippett, Khaira is NOT an option tonight against the Calgary Flames.”

And from CHED’s Reid Wilkins: “Tippett says Stalock needs time to get up and running. Expects that he can be around the team tomorrow. Says he can probably go on the next road trip. Keeps it to a ‘will see’ about Stalock getting game action.”

And from the Buffalo Sabres @BuffaloSabres: “Head coach Ralph Krueger has been relieved of his duties.”

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My take

1. Injuries are starting to take a toll on the team, but here’s where Edmonton’s stronger depth this year comes into play. With players like Zack Kassian and Dominik Kahun close to ready to play, if not ready, and with depth d-men like Evan Bouchard, Caleb Jones and Kris Russell able to step in and step up, injuries are not such a major issue.

2. The exception to this general rule is depth at centre, where Khaira’s absence will likely be felt acutely. One of the hardest things for any centre to do — and something that each of Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins have struggled with at times — is slot defence. Khaira was providing outstanding slot defence in a third line role. The only good news here is Gaetan Haas also has provided great slot defence, so Edmonton’s cupboard isn’t bare there.

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