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Morning Skate: Land of Oil

The Wings head to Western Canada again for a three-game trip that starts tonight in Edmonton. Then, they face the Flames on Friday and the Canucks on Saturday. Tonight's game could be big for the Wings after two games that they could have won but lost focus. 

Since the last meeting on November 11 (a 6-2 Detroit win), the Red Wings have gone 14-7-4 and the Oilers have gone 8-10-5. The Oilers have lost six straight and 8 of their last 10 (although two of those were in the skills competition) and sit last in the Western Conference. However, just because the Oilers sit at the bottom of the West doesn't mean they aren't dangerous. Edmonton's draft picks Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle are helping to lead this offense. Eberle (ankle) will sit out tonight but Hall will be in the line-up.

The Red Wings will have the services of Brad Stuart after he took a puck to the back of the helmet but the status of Patrick Eaves (infected elbow) is yet to be determined. If Eaves is in, that means that either Tomas Tatar or Jan Mursak is likely to sit.

The Copper & Blue is your SB Nation Oilers' site. Be sure to check it out, they do great work. 

A little change-up for the preview is after the jump, but don't worry there's still the form for submissions.

  • It looks like Jimmy Howard will start in net tonight. He really needs to step up his game soon because the Wings will have a tough time competing if he doesn't. 
  • Score Prediction: 5-2 Detroit. I think the offense comes out ready to play tonight 
  • Player of the Game Prediction: Henrik Zetterberg. Hank has started to lead more and more in the absence of Pavel Datsyuk so he continues to do so. 
Today, we've got some questions for Derek Zona, the head man over at The Copper & Blue, about the Oilers. 

WIIM: The Oilers haven't dug themselves out of the Western Conference just yet but from an outsider's perspective, things seem to be looking up for this team with some of this young talent on the roster. Are the Oilers taking the right steps to improve the team or is there still a lot to be done?

Derek Zona: The team is two years, three defensemen, four forwards and a stable veteran goaltender away from competing. There is no veteran depth and management has now gone three years without a second or third center.

WIIM:That young talent is starting to assert itself and after a slow start, Taylor Hall now leads the team in goals with 12 and Jordan Eberle is close behind at 9. How much of this team's success this year can be credited to those two players?

Zona: What success would that be? Those two have been fine - they're fun to watch and they play hard. They seem like they're going to be okay, even without veterans around them to take the load off.

WIIM: At the end of this season, where are the Oilers?

Zona: Same place they've been since they traded Chris Pronger for a map to Brigadoon and some magic beans. The team has gone through the Detroit Model and the Chicago Model, no one is really sure which model they claim to follow now, but fans have now deluded themselves into believing that a team can lose terribly for years and as long as lottery picks abound, the Oilers will be a cup contender. Management and the fans seem to forget that whole part about building a team.

WIIM: What was the reaction from the Edmonton side after Linus Omark's shootout goal?

Zona: Omark's debut was highly anticipated because of the shootout clips on Youtube and his hi-jinks with Branko Radivojevic in the KHL last season. Fans also wanted to see him because the Oilers haven't had a reliable shooter in the shootout in a long time. Couple the palpable anticipation with the spin move and it was cause for celebration.

WIIM: If you had to choose one Red Wing to put out on the ice for the Oilers, who is it and why?

Zona: Ken Holland. I'd make him the backup goalie and General Manager. If he's not available, I'll take anyone with an office near Holland's or anyone who has been in a meeting with Holland or shared a cab with Holland any time in the last ten years.

Thanks again to Derek Zona of The Copper & Blue for taking some time to answer some questions.