EDMONTON -- A coaching change seems to have rejuvenated the Edmonton Oilers as they attempt to win consecutive games for the first time in nearly two months Tuesday against the Detroit Red Wings.
Oilers interim coach Todd Nelson has earned six points (2-0-2) in four games since taking over exclusively. Edmonton (9-22-9) has not won consecutive games since Nov. 9, defeating the New York Rangers 3-1 following a 3-2 win against the Buffalo Sabres two nights earlier.
"I think we're getting a little more confidence in the new systems that have been put in place," Oilers left wing Matt Hendricks said. "The energy has to stay where it's at; the energy has been great and the accountability within the room has gotten better. I think everyone is towing the rope in terms of what the coach is expecting from us and everybody has raised their game right now, but we need to keep improving."
Nelson took over along with general manager Craig MacTavish on Dec. 15 after the firing of Dallas Eakins.
MacTavish accompanied Nelson on the bench for five games before stepping aside after a 4-1 loss at the Calgary Flames on Dec. 27. Nelson has not lost in regulation since.
"We're getting the results that we want now, but the coaches are still showing us plenty of areas we need to improve," Hendricks said. "We want to have a complete game and that's the goal here and I know that's the coaching staff's goal as well."
The game against Edmonton is the second of a six-game road trip for Detroit (20-10-9). The Red Wings lost 4-1 at the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday.
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said he is not familiar with the Oilers struggles this season, but instead focused on their recent games since Nelson took over.
"I look at what you've done points-wise in the last five games," Babcock said. "To me, it's what have you done for me lately? We don't call that analytics, we just call that stats, we've been doing it for about 100 years and that's what we're going with."
Despite not having played Detroit this this season, Nelson is familiar with a number of players in the Red Wings lineup, dating back to his coaching days in the American Hockey League with the Oklahoma City Barons.
"I'm very familiar with a lot of the players on Detroit, because they played in Grand Rapids, who we faced a couple of years ago in the [AHL] Western Conference Final," Nelson said. "There are a lot of familiar faces on their side. They have a very high skill level, they play a good structured game. It's going to be fun to coach the Oilers up against Mike."
Goaltender Viktor Fasth will start for Edmonton; goalie Jimmy Howard will start for Detroit.
Here are the projected lineups:
Henrik Zetterberg - Pavel Datsyuk - Justin Abdelkader
Tomas Tatar - Riley Sheahan - Tomas Jurco
Johan Franzen - Darren Helm - Gustav Nyquist
Drew Miller - Luke Glendening - Stephen Weiss
Jonathan Ericsson - Niklas Kronwall
Kyle Quincey - Danny DeKeyser
Brendan Smith - Xavier Ouellet
Scratched: Daniel Cleary, Joakim Andersson, Brian Lashoff
Injured: Jakub Kindl (elbow), Jonas Gustavsson (shoulder)
Taylor Hall - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle
Benoit Pouliot - Derek Roy - Teddy Purcell
Nail Yakupov - Anton Lander - Matt Fraser
Matt Hendricks - Boyd Gordon – Rob Klinkhammer
Andrew Ference - Jeff Petry
Oscar Klefbom - Mark Fayne
Nikita Nikitin - Justin Schultz
Scratched: Luke Gazdic, Keith Aulie
Injured: Tyler Pitlick (lacerated spleen)
Status report: Fasth has not played since being pulled after allowing three goals on six shots, Dec. 27 against Calgary. He has not won a game since Nov. 9. Pitlick was released from a Calgary hospital Monday. He's expected to be out for at least three months.
Who's hot: Datsyuk has a goal and four assists in his past six games. … Roy has a goal and an assist in his first four games with Edmonton.