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Matchup: Detroit Red Wings vs. Edmonton Oilers
Venue: Rexall Place, Edmonton, Alberta
Time: 9:30 PM EST
Television: Detroit- FS-D; Edmonton- SNET-EDM
The Detroit Red Wings (12-10-5, 29 points, 9th place Western Conference) have not started the second half of the season the way they had hoped. Instead of padding their position in the standings, they have dropped the first three games (0-2-1) to two teams they should have beaten. The three consecutive losses have dropped the Red Wings out of the playoffs for the time being, though they remain only one point out of the fifth seed. Over their past six games, the Red Wings are 2-3-1 .They will look to stop their three game skid when they visit Edmonton to take on the young Edmonton Oilers (10-11-5, 25 points, 13th place Western Conference). This will be their third straight game against one of the bottom three teams of the Western Conference (Columbus was bottom three until the two victories over the Red Wings last weekend). This is the third and final matchup of the season between the Red Wings and Oilers, with Detroit taking the first two games of the season series. The Red Wings won back on February 9th at Joe Louis 2-1 and then again at Joe Louis March 9th 3-0 to take the season series with one game left to play.
The Red Wings are coming off of a 5-2 loss in Calgary Tuesday night in which they made many mistakes in the third period and got shaky goaltending from Jonas Gustavsson. The one highlight of the game though was the fact that they finally connected on the powerplay on the road for the first time this season. Prior to that powerplay goal they were 0-37 on the road and the only team to not score a road powerplay goal. Hopefully the Red Wings will be able to connect more in the upcoming games now that they have it out of their minds that they have not scored a road powerplay goal. It will be a tough task though, Edmonton owns the leagues seventh best penalty kill at 83.8% success. The offense has stalled again and has not scored more than 3 goals since the February 24th drudging of Vancouver where they scored 8 goals en route to an 8-3 win.
Edmonton has dropped 10 of the past 11 games to the Red Wings and have only scored 1 goal against the Red Wings this season in two games. Edmonton is coming off of back to back wins for the first time since January 28-30th and have lost 5 of their past 7 overall (2-4-1), including a 5 game losing streak prior to the back to back wins. Their last game was an impressive 4-0 shutout of the Colorado Avalanche where Edmonton goalie Devan Dubnyk earned his first shutout of the season. Edmonton still owns the leagues seventh best powerplay unit, connecting on 23.1% of their chances. The Red Wings will need strong penalty killing if they are to come away with a big road victory tonight. Overall, Edmonton has been sub par this season on the road and at home. Their home record is sitting at 4-4-2 so this is an opportunity for the wings to cash in with a win.
After sitting out Tuesday night with the flu, Jimmy Howard will make his return to net for the Red Wings. Howard has been strong this season against the Oilers, giving up only 1 goal in two contests while earning a shutout in the last game. Overall, Howard is 8-1-2 with a .925 save percentage and 1.96 GAA in 11 career games against Edmonton.
The Oilers will counter with Devan Dubnyk in net coming off of his strong start against the Avalanche. Dubnyk did not play too poorly against the Red Wings in the last game, he was just outperformed by Howard and not helped by a lack of offense on his teammates part.
The Red Wings will keep the same defensive players in which means that Ian White will be a healthy scratch once again. Jordin Tootoo is expected to be a healthy scratch for the second straight game, though it was said that it would be a game time decision.
Players To Watch:
- Valtteri Filppula came back strong from injury by posting a powerplay goal, the Red Wings first road PPG of the season, and has scored 2 goals in his past four games played. It will be interesting to see if he can keep the offense going considering the Red Wings offensive struggles. In his career, Filppula has tallied 17 points (8 goals, 9 assists) in 24 games.
- Jakub Kindl has quietly had a nice season thus far for the Red Wings. He has posted 7 points (3 goals, 4 assists) in 20 games played and leads the team in +/- with a +9 rating. If he continues to play smart and put up good numbers, he will be a solid player along the blue line for the Red Wings who are still trying to deal with the loss of Nicklas Lidstrom.
- Justin Schultz was one of the most sought after rookie free agents this past offseason and listened to offers from many teams including the Red Wings. He instead chose Edmonton and has put together a great rookie season so far collecting 15 points (5 goals, 10 assists) in 26 games. In the two games against the Red Wings this season Schultz scored the only goal for Edmonton.
- Nail Yakupov has been another impressive rookie for the Oilers. This first pick overall in last years draft, Yakupov has collected 13 points (6 goals, 7 assists) in his first NHL season. What is impressive to me is that he has collected the 13 points with only 14:11 TOI per game.
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