Morning Skate: Striking Oil

DETROIT - NOVEMBER 11: Taylor Hall #4 of the Edmonton Oilers battles for position with Brad Stuart #23 of the Detroit Red Wings as Jimmy Howard #35 of the Detroit Red Wings looks on during their NHL game at Joe Louis Arena on November 11 2010 in Detroit Michigan.(Photo By Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

"We may be old, but I was telling Igor that I'd rather be old and smart than young and dumb.  Youth and enthusiasm can only take you so far."

-Brett Hull after Game 3 of the 2002 Stanley Cup final (3-2 triple OT win for the Red Wings)

The kids up in Edmonton have had a fantastic start to the season.  Through the first 15 games of their season, they've earned 20 points and currently sit in first place of the Northwest Division.  Not too shabby for the 5th youngest team in the National Hockey League.  This team is led offensively by their top line made up of  three youngsters:  Jordan Eberle (21), Taylor Hall (19), and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (18).  Also contributing early on are the corpses of Ryan Smyth (35) and Nikolai Khabibulin (38).  

But there aren't enough vets on the Oilers like Smyth and this team's ride is about to end.  As the great philosopher Brett Hull said above, the youth will only take you so far.  Working for the Bruins, I was able to watch the Oilers up close and in-person last night.  Make no mistake, this team has talent, but they were simply over-matched by the older, smarter, vet-filled Bruins team.  Boston stayed disciplined and stuck to their game plan.  The Oilers were able to keep it close based on their pure talent, but eventually the B's system prevailed.  I believe the same fate is in store for the Oilers tonight.  They'll score some goals, but the Wings system will ultimately prevail in the end.

Khabibulin and Devan Dubnyk have played fantastic this season.  The Bulin Wall leads the league in GAA (0.98) and is second in Save% (.964).  But, this team's defense is suspect and after their top two lines the depth just isn't there.  The Wings can't take the Oilers lightly, but they should be able to win this game.  Edmonton has had a fantastic start to the season, but they're team just isn't ready to be at that next level just yet.  They're still a year away.  


The Copper & Blue is your SBNation Oilers' blog.

Puck drop is just after 7:30p ET.

 

The Expected Lineup

Danny Cleary -- Pavel Datsyuk -- Tomas Holmstrom

Valtteri Filppula -- Henrik Zetterberg -- Johan Franzen

Jiri Hudler -- Darren Helm -- Justin Abdelkader

Drew Miller -- Cory Emmerton -- Patrick Eaves/Fabian Brunnstrom

 

Nicklas Lidstrom -- Ian White

Niklas Kronwall -- Brad Stuart

Jonathan Ericsson -- Jakub Kindl/Mike Commodore

 

Jimmy Howard (starting)

Ty Conklin

 

Scratches:  Todd Bertuzzi (sick), Patrick Eaves/Fabian Brunnstrom, and Jakub Kindl/Mike Commodore

Injuries: Jan Mursak (ankle)

We know Bert is out tonight and tomorrow will an illness.  He's suffering from dizziness and swelling in his ears.  I imagine that if Kindl plays tonight, Commie will go tomorrow.  If Eaves back is doing well enough, I imagine he'll see action tonight or tomorrow and Bruno will play the other game.  

 

OILERS HOW THEY MATCH UP RED WINGS
9-4-2 (20 pts) Record 7-5-1 (15 pts)
2.33 (23rd) Goals Per Game 2.62 (18th)
1.80 (1st) Goals Against Per Game 2.38 (9th)
18.0 (15th) Power Play % 18.5% (T-12th)
86.9% (9th) Penalty Kill % 77.4% (21st)
Ryan Smyth (9 goals)
Goal Leader Johan Franzen (8 goals)
Ryan Smyth (16 points) Points Leader Johan Franzen (13 points)

 

 

  • The Red Wings are 53-36-13-10 (W-L-T-OTL) all-time against the Oilers.
  • Khabibulin is 7-0-2 this season and has won six straight starts.  It's the first time he's done this since 2004 when his streak ended at the Joe with a 1-1 tie.  Well, we know there won't be a tie tonight, but let's hope the streak ends once again tonight at the Joe.
  • Edmonton has only given up five 1st period goals all season.  They've given up 22 total goals in the 2nd and 3rd period combined.  If the Wings can stick to the gameplan and continue to fire the puck on the net, the statistics show that they should be able to wear down the Oilers and find the back of the net as the game goes on.
  • The Oilers are 7-1-1 when leading after two periods.  Obvious key to tonight's game: Don't let Edmonton lead after two.
  • The Wings are 6-1-2 when scoring first.  The OIlers are 6-1-1 when scoring first.  Detroit is 1-4-0 when they don't score first.  The Wings needs to score first, and based of the last bullet, hold their lead through two periods.

 

Prediction: Wings win 4-2.  Darren Helm is your player of the game and the third line has a big night.

 

Let's Go Red Wings.

 

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