One Was Texas Medicine, The Other Was Railroad Gin

The first real “hockey” line I remember was the Phil Esposito-Wayne Cashman-Kenny Hodge line on the great Bruins teams 70-75. Esposito played through all the lines, but he was a beauty. He could score goals from the slot like no one before or since (and that includes Tim Kerr), and was helped by Wayne Cashman’s hard work (he was a Ryan Smyth-type in terms of effort, worked all night in the corners) and Hodge was a smooth winger who could pass the puck, shoot and make plays.

That was my first real memory of “lines” on an NHL team. I knew that Esposito-Cashman-Hodge was the top line on my favorite team (Boston) but a team like Toronto during the early 70s were working in some new hires and kept the best wingers for the better scorer and asked Keon to work in the new recruits. I guess you could say Horcoff is the Oilers’ Keon, but for old timey Leaf fans that might stop the ol’ ticker. I don’t recall a line from my childhood being as famous as the Esposito line.

Lots of talk about lines today at practice. It went something like this:

  • RNH-Hall-Eberle
  • Horcoff-Smyth-Hemsky
  • Belanger-Lander-Jones
  • Gagner-Eager-Petrell
  • extra: Paajarvi

The Oilers don’t play again until Thursday (against Ottawa) so there’s plenty of time to work on things and this might have been a message. Still, you can see what the lineup does–gives the team a little shakeup on the 3-4 lines and perhaps gives young Lander a different view. It probably also serves as a “smelling salts” moment for young Samwise and Magnum PS.

I think the coach will swing a different way tomorrow, and suspect we either see the kid line broken up or possibly a recall of Omark with Paajarvi or Lander heading to OKC. If the Oilers come out Thursday night with the combination listed above, I’ll begin to suspect Texas Medicine, Railroad gin or a combination of the two.

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