(gif credit to cali-canuck)
You could see it on their faces during the game, and you could hear it in their voices during the postgame interviews and in Taylor Hall’s appearance on the NHL Live Arena Cam. Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins were back where they belonged. Last night on the ice in St. Louis, the Edmonton Oilers reunited their Kid Line, and everyone rejoiced.
Everyone, that is, except the St. Louis Blues.
To be fair, I can’t really blame the Blues. The Kid Line’s offensive effort, combined with Nikolai Khabibulin essentially standing on his head, ended in a 3-0 win for the Oilers – the exact opposite of the final score the last time these two teams met, on March 23rd in Edmonton. Apparently being shut out in their own barn really does something to the Oilers, because they weren’t giving any quarter last night, and at the core of it was this particular line of talented young forwards.
The Hall/Nugent-Hopkins/Eberle line started the shortened season together and with large expectations placed on them, after their performance last season and in the AHL during the lockout. The Oilers’ early slump, however, resulted in Ralph Krueger deciding to split the line, shuffling his players in the hopes of sparking the offense, and they’ve only been together sporadically since then – usually in cases of desperation.
I haven’t exactly been quiet about voicing my displeasure with this decision. I know that you’re all shocked.
Yesterday, Krueger said after morning skate that the forward lines were going to be “a surprise”. Line rushes in warmups looked fairly similar to recent games, so the mystery seemed unnecessary, and it made me, at least, wonder if this was going to go the same way as the last game against the Blues. But just a few minutes into the game, Krueger pulled out his line blender, shuffled everything around, and sent out the Kid Line. It was a completely different story from there on out.
Three goals. Eight combined points. A chased goalie. An almost-fight with the Blues captain in a period where the Blues became bullies and the Oilers refused to back down. These are a few of my favorite things…because the performance given by the Kid Line last night, in a game that was absolutely vital to the Oilers’ playoff chances, means that Krueger is definitely going to think twice before splitting them again. And that’s the way I like it.
That seems to be the way the kids like it too.
“They put me, Nuge and Ebs together tonight, and I thought that was great,” said Taylor Hall on the NHL Arena Cam.
“We found some chemistry early, and it worked throughout the game,” Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said in his postgame media availability. “It’s definitely nice to be back together and playing well.”
“We were playing well, it’s nice to play with those two,” was Jordan Eberle’s contribution. “All three of us like playing with each other, and when it’s going, it’s fun.”
It’s fun. It’s great. It’s definitely nice. And most importantly, it’s a winning combination. And that, most of all, is what the Oilers need right now.