Thursday, April 20, 2017

More Changes on Connor McDavid's Line for Game 5

Connor McDavid's line will be fine-tuned for Game 5 of the Sharks-Oilers series on Thursday night at Rogers Place. Head coach Todd McLellan announced that Drake Caggiula will step up to the line alongside McDavid and Draisaitl. The trio has been together in spurts for the Oilers during the regular season.

It's the third different trio that McDavid will center in the series. He started with Leon Draisaitl and Patrick Maroon, but Draisaitl was replaced on the line during Game 3 when Anton Slepyshev was moved up to play with McDavid.

"7-0 is probably better than 1-0," said head coach McLellan on Thursday, referring to Tuesday's lopsided loss. "It forced us to look at some things a little bit differently. Patty's size, Leon's size has been a very useful tool [for McDavid] throughout the year, but we haven't got to the point where we can actually use it in their end that much, so a little bit more pace for [Connor]."

McDavid recorded 100 points during the regular season to win the Art Ross Trophy, which goes to the league's leading scorer, but he only has two points in his first four playoff games.

"I see Connor being our captain and one of the top two or three players in the world," said McLellan. "Rises to the occasion often. Is playing in his first playoff series, playing against the same team, night-in and night-out, going up against one of the top defensive pairs and individuals in Marc-Edouard Vlasic and when [Vlasic] is not on the ice he faces some good veteran checkers up front, and I view [Connor] as having 19 other players around him that have to help."

And what makes Vlasic so tough as a shutdown defender?

"Very competitive, and very well-positioned, and stamina," McLellan said. "He can go three minutes in a shift and still be playing at the same level of play in the last half of that shift as he is in the first."