Morning Skate: Close the Door, Mr. Conklin

DALLAS, TX - JANUARY 17: Ty Conklin #29 of the Detroit Red Wings makes a save against the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center on January 17, 2012 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The Oilers put on a show Tuesday night.

22-year-old Sam Gagner scored four goals and added four assists to tie Wayne Gretzky and Paul Coffey for the franchise record of eight points in a single game. The Oilers ended the game with an 8-4 victory over the Blackhawks. Before Tuesday, Edmonton had only scored nine goals in their previous four games before the offensive explosion. Hopefully they shot their load on offense and they return to their normal ways tonight.

Of course, news broke yesterday that Jimmy Howard is out with the tip of his finger broken. That means it's up to Mr. Conklin to close the door. And while he's played better recently, if Gagner plays like he did last game he might be breaking Darryl Sittler's record of 10 points in a single hockey game.

Joking aside, the Wings are finally above .500 on the road (15-14-0) and, even without Howard, the Oilers are a team Detroit should beat. They're capable of stealing a game (as they did against Chicago), but the Wings talent is better, older and wiser. The division battle is close and the team has put an emphasis on playing better on the road. Tonight is a chance at two more points and another step in the right direction.

The race for the playoffs continues with a second stop in Alberta. The rest of the Central is right on the Wings heels. Don't let the points slip away.

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The Copper & Blue is your SBNation Oilers' blog.

Puck drop is just after 10p ET on Fox Sports Detroit.

The Expected Lineup

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Johan Franzen -- Pavel Datsyuk -- Todd Bertuzzi

Valtteri Filppula -- Henrik Zetterberg -- Jiri Hudler

Danny Cleary -- Darren Helm -- Drew Miller

Jan Mursak -- Justin Abdelkader -- Tomas Holmstrom

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Nicklas Lidstrom -- Ian White

Niklas Kronwall -- Brad Stuart

Jonathan Ericsson -- Mike Commodore

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Ty Conklin (starting)

Joey MacDonald

Scratches: Cory Emmerton and Jakub Kindl

Injuries: Patrick Eaves (jaw) and Jimmy Howard (finger)

RED WINGS HOW THEY MATCH UP OILERS
35-16-1 (71 pts; 1st in NHL) Record 20-26-5 (45 pts; 14th in West)
3.10 (5th in NHL) Goals Per Game 2.57 (18th in NHL)
2.33 (6th) Goals Against Per Game 2.82 (20th)
17.8% (16th) Power Play % 21.4% (3rd)
80.9% (23rd) Penalty Kill % 82.6% (15th)
Johan Franzen (19 goals) Goal Leader Jordan Eberle (20 goals)
Pavel Datsyuk (53 points) Points Leader Jordan Eberle (50 points)

  • The Red Wings are 55-36-13-10 (W-L-T-OTL) all-time against the Edmonton Oilers franchise.
  • The Oilers are 3-0-1 in their last four games. They have wins over the Blackhawks, Avalanche, and Sharks and their OT loss was to the Canucks. Not too shabby.
  • In the "Doesn't Matter in Tonight's Game But it's a Great Stat and Makes the Blackhawks Look Stupid" Department: Edmonton has outscored Chicago 17-6 at home this season.
  • Potential trade target Ales Hemsky and his 16 goals and 20 assists will be in action for the Oilers tonight.
  • Former Oiler Ty Conklin is 4-2-0 with a 3.02 GAA, .900 SV% and one shutout against his former team.
  • Jiri Hudler has four goals in the last three games. Valtteri Filppula has a new career high 41 points already this season. Happy times for everyone. Detroit's "youth" is stepping up.
  • The Wings are 7-0-0 (including a 2-1 OT thriller at H2H2) in their last seven games against Edmonton.

Prediction: Mr. Conklin will be serviceable. The Wings depth will come through and the third line will continue to play well and chip in a goal. The Datsyuk/Franzen/Bertuzzi line will wake up and be the best group on the night. Wings win 5-3 and Pavel Datsyuk is your player of the game.

Let's Go Red Wings.

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