After starting the season with back-to-back losses, Edmonton is shaking things up for Game 3.
On Monday, head coach Dallas Eakins announced that veteran alternate captain Ryan Smyth would be a healthy scratch for tonight’s home date with the Devils, and center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins would play on a line with Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle in what’ll be RNH’s season debut.
“I’ve got my eyes set on 4-5 forwards who have not performed well,” Eakins said of the lineup changes. “Smytty’s out tonight. We’ll see about the rest.”
As for putting Nugent-Hopkins with Hall and Eberle, Eakins called it a “no-brainer.”
The Oilers have been outscored 11-6 in season-opening defeats to Winnipeg and Vancouver, something their rookie bench boss is none too pleased with. On Sunday, he said Edmonton fans had a right to be angry — “as angry as we are” — and re-iterated that message on Monday.
“We’ve lost two straight and people are pissed off,” Eakins said. “I love that.”
In another lineup move for tonight, backup goalie Jason LaBarbera will make first start for the Oilers. He replaces struggling starter Devan Dubnyk, currently boasting a 6.53 GAA and .831 save percentage.