Red Wings fans! It’s a beautiful Sunday and my honey-do-list is extensive, so I’m going to keep this one short and simple.
The Red Wings have lost four in a row. It’s hilarious, because after their six-game winning streak, I heard someone on Detroit Sports Radio say “this team is like the Tigers, even if they win six in a row today, they’ll lose six in a row tomorrow.” well how right was he?
The last two losses have felt like 2015 all over again. Blown third period leads. It’s the worst way to lose, and no one seems better at it than the Red Wings. In past years, you would see the Red Wings are hosting the Oilers and get excited, but this isn’t the same Edmonton Oilers team. They were riding a three-game losing streak of their own, before beating the Islanders in a shootout last night.
Edmonton enters play at 8-3-1 and are tied for seventh in the NHL in scoring (3.08 G/PG). Unsurprisingly, the Red Wings have dominated the Oilers over the years. Dating back to 2011-12, the Red Wings have gone 11-1-1 while averaging 3.23 goals for and 1.62 goals against per game. However, like I mentioned, this is an entirely different Oilers squad, so let’s take a look at the lineups and starting goalies:
THE RED WINGS
Following Friday’s loss the Red Wings practiced on Saturday, with both Luke Glendening and Niklas Kronwall taking maintenance days. This will be probably be a regular occurrence for Kronwall, as he limits the strain on his knees. Kronwall looked solid on the Red Wings’ blueline in his season debut and should continue to look better as he gets back into game shape. He actually led the team in Corsi (+3), but that was likely aided by his sheltered zone starts. Don’t expect that to be the case on Sunday. Despite missing the morning skate, Ryan Sproul skated as a Kronwall placeholder and he skated on the right side of the top-pairing next to Dan DeKeyser. This suggests, Jeff Blashill liked what he saw from Kronwall and wants to see more of him tonight.
From the eye test, I was really impressed with the Tatar-Zetterberg-Abdelkader line yet again. They continue to look like our most dangerous line and Zetterberg picked up his second goal in as many games. However, for as much pressure and offensive zone-time as they’ve been getting, they aren’t getting many pucks to the net or as many scoring chances as they should be. Dylan Larkin continues to be one of the Red Wings’ best forwards, but Detroit still needs more out of his line with Gustav Nyquist and Frans Nielsen.
The Oilers shuffled their lines prior to last night’s game and they seemed to work. It was the first time that Milan Lucic played away from Connor McDavid, but it resulted in a goal for both Lucic and his new linemate Leon Draisaitl. The Oiers are still a very young roster, but they have become a deep team—something that couldn’t be said about them over the last decade. McDavid is challenging for the right to be the best player in the NHL and he is very, very close. The explosive sophomore could cause a lot of problems for a Red Wings’ blueline that is not exactly fleet of foot.
Finnish rookie Patrik Laine did some damage to the Red Wings on Friday, hopefully his fellow countryman Jesse Puljujarvi doesn’t do the same tonight. The rookie actually left Saturday’s game with an injury, but it isn’t expected to keep him out of today’s lineup.
This is a heavy team, with an improving blueline, but this is still not a high-end team and a team the Red Wings can get two points against, especially coming in on the tail-end of a back-to-back.
BETWEEN THE PIPES
Jimmy Howard is already the Red Wings’ confirmed starter, which isn’t surprising, considering Petr Mrazek’s recent struggles. In three starts and one relief appearance, Howard has gone 2-1-0 with an unreal 0.86 GAA and .973 SV%. Howard has impressed in the early-season and should give the Red Wings a chance to win again tonight.
The Red Wings could see a familiar face in net for the Oilers. Cam Talbot has started the first 12 games of the season and given their back-to-back, I would expect that Jonas Gutavsson will get his first start of the year. Talbot has been excellent, so this is great news for the Red Wings. Gustavsson isn’t a bad netminder, but we know all too well that he is susceptible for a weak goal or two.
WHERE TO WATCH
Puck drop is at 5:00 p.m. ET at Joe Louis Arena. You can watch the game on Fox Sports Detroit or listen to it on 97.1 FM The Ticket.
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