Two out of three

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:46 AM ET

While the first three lines have been jelling for the better part of two weeks, Marty Reasoner has been doing his best to develop chemistry with a revolving door.

As head coach Craig MacTavish continues to audition fourth line wingers, Reasoner won't even know who's on his line until a day or two before the regular season.

Patrick Thoresen seems to have the left side secured, but with one cut left to go, the Oilers still have J.F. Jacques, Marc-Antoine Pouliot, Alexei Mikhnov and Brad Winchester vying for the final spot on Reasoner's right wing.

It would be nice if he had more time to get used to whoever he's playing with, but he understands the coaching staff can't rush its decision.

"You just roll with what comes your way," said Reasoner, who's lined up with a different winger almost every game.

"Over the course of the year there's a chance you're going to be playing with a lot of different guys, so you have to be versatile, especially in that role.

"Either way we're in a lucky position where there's a lot of talent."

Jacques skated with Reasoner and Patrick Thoresen in practice yesterday, and while it doesn't mean the trio is carved in stone, it's a good sign for Jacques.

"We took a look at it today and we'll entertain thoughts of seeing it again Tuesday," said MacTavish. "We're expecting some things out of that line, obviously. We're going to continue to tweak it till we get the right mix.

"Once we get the right chemistry and we get some effective play both offensively and defensively then that will be the combination that stays for a while.

"It's really important for all three of those guys, whoever they are, to realize they're all in the same boat with three paddles.

"They better all get it together because it'll ensure that they're in the lineup each and every night. We haven't seen it yet, but we're waiting to see what can develop there."

MacTavish admits that given the talent on Edmonton's first three lines, it'll be a challenge for the fourth line to stake out its territory, so they'll have to hit the ground running.

"It's going to be largely predicated on the amount of penalties in the game," he said.

"I will not get the fourth line ice time at the expense of the skill guys. So if there's a lot of penalties they're not going to see a lot of ice time, that much is clear. Marty will kill penalties, so he'll play more.

"If they're having a a really good game they'll play more, but I have to be really conscientious of making sure we get all those forwards the ice time they need to get on track offensively."

Reasoner knows the Oilers are deep, but says the depth extends all the way to the fourth unit, however it shakes down.

"We're in a situation where we want to be one of the better fourth lines in the league, and if we can do that it gives us that much more of an advantage," he said. "We ran into some issues last year where late in games we couldn't play in (tight) situations. It's our job to gain the confidence of MacT, that he can put us out in close games."


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