Wings return home to host Oilers
Tuesday, 02.07.2012 / 4:32 PMOILERS (21-27-5) RED WINGS (35-17-2)
: TSN, RDSI (HD), FS-D+
: Edmonton 5-4-1; Detroit 7-2-1.
: This will be the fourth and final game between these Western Conference teams and Detroit has won two of the first three – winning 3-0 on Nov. 11 at Joe Louis Arena and 3-2 on Dec. 14 at Rexall Place. Jimmy Howard
was in goal for both of those wins for the Red Wings, but missed the most recent meeting – a 5-4 Oilers shootout win on Feb. 4 at Rexall Place – with a broken finger that could also keep him out for this game.
: Detroit has won a franchise-record 17 straight game at home and keeps setting a new mark with each new win. The NHL record is 20 straight wins at home, but before the Wings start looking that far ahead they'll have to figure out a way to beat the Oilers – who just beat them in Edmonton this past weekend in a shootout. Howard (broken finger) will probably miss the game, but Joey MacDonald
looked solid in his first start of the season on Monday in Phoenix. Edmonton, meanwhile, has again lost dynamic rookie center Ryan Nugent Hopkins for up to 10 days because of a new shoulder injury that happened in Toronto on Monday, while Oilers coach Tom Renney might also miss a second straight game after getting hit in the head with a puck at Edmonton's morning skate in Toronto.
: They still haven't entirely solved their road struggles, as evidenced by a 3-1 loss on Monday to conclude a five-game road swing, but the trip wasn't terrible. It also concluded Detroit's toughest stretch of the remaining schedule. The Red Wings entered Tuesday's action still on top of the League standings with 72 points and hope to use a two-week homestand to increase that lead even more. Detroit plays 18 of its final 28 games at Joe Louis Arena. The Wings also came back to the Motor City at a good time from a health standpoint – with Howard nursing his broken index finger and forwards Danny Cleary
and Tomas Holmstrom
battling chronic knee pain. Star center Pavel Datsyuk
is also avoiding most faceoffs over the next couple of games because of an apparent wrist ailment. The good news is that since playing 21 of their last 31 games on the road, the Wings are home in their comfort zone.
"You still have to play," Detroit coach Mike Babcock told the Detroit News. "That's our whole key. We have to play and play at a high level."
: They've had some pretty odd injuries in Edmonton, so having both Nugent-Hopkins and Renney injured on Monday in Toronto shouldn't have come as a huge shock – even with Renney taking a puck to the head in the morning skate. This is the same team that lost star Taylor Hall
to a nasty facial cut from a teammate's skate blade after a fall in the-game warm-up and originally lost Nugent-Hopkins for 13 games with a shoulder injury after he fell awkwardly into the boards in Chicago. Now he's got a different injury to the same shoulder after a hit by Toronto's Mike Brown on Monday night. Good thing the line combination of Jordan Eberle
, Sam Gagner
and Taylor Hall
remains red hot –accounting for two of the Oilers’ three goals against the Maple Leafs.
"I felt like our line, for spurts, was good all night – and it's important that we play a full 60 minutes,” said Gagner, who earned the League’s top star for his 11 points in two games last weekend, including an 8-point game (4 goals and 4 assists) against Chicago. "It's something we can learn from and hopefully get better as we go on here."
: Cleary and Darren Helm
have assists in four of the last five games for Detroit, while teammate Henrik Zetterberg
has tallied four assists in the past two contests; Take your pick of scorching players on the Oilers’ top line, with Gagner still leading the way with 6 goals and 6 assists in the past three games.
: Patrick Eaves
(fractured jaw) is on injured reserve, Cleary (knee) may need a treatment that could sideline and Howard (fractured finger) isn’t likely to play for Detroit. Nugent-Hopkins (shoulder) and Renney (struck by puck/possible concussion) could both be missing for Edmonton.
: The Red Wings are averaging 4.3 goals a game during their 17-game home winning streak, but have scored just three markers in six of the past seven games at Joe Louis Arena; The Oilers are 1-8-1 in their last 10 road games and rank last in the League overall with a 6-19-2 record away from Rexall Place – good for just 14 points in 27 road games.
: Edmonton associate coach Ralph Krueger said that Renney could potentially coach against the Red Wings, but it's not a certainty.
"He was a part of our team meeting earlier," Krueger told the Edmonton Journal. "It's important for him to get some rest. We need to take it day to day with him."