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Oilers look to cool Red-hot Wings

by Deborah Francisco
OILERS (9-4-2) AT RED WINGS (7-5-1)


Last 10: Edmonton 7-2-1, Detroit 4-5-1

Season Series: This is the first meeting of four between the Red Wings and Oilers this season. Detroit swept a four-game season series last season.

Big Story:
Two hot Western Conference teams will go head to head on Friday night as the Red Wings host the Oilers. The Red Wings are looking to build on a two-game win streak while the Oilers are hoping to finish a six-game road trip above .500. Silencing Johan Franzen will be key for Edmonton if they hope to bounce the Red Wings on home ice.

Team Scope:

The Oilers are four games into a six-game road trip and so far they are 2-2 after a hard-fought 6-3 loss to the Bruins on Thursday night. After coming back to tie the score in the first period, the Oilers allowed two goals in the second period and two more in the third. The Oilers’ downfall in the contest, according to head coach Tom Renney, was turnovers:

“ Turnovers, turnovers, flat out turnovers…we’ve even got veteran players turning pucks over,” Renney said. “The only reason you get the start you do is because you manage the puck well. We got ourselves back into the game and we needed to continue that.”

But the Oilers hardly have time to sit and think about the loss as they face the Red Wings on Friday. Even with the loss to the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Oilers still sit atop the Northwest Division with 20 points in 15 games.

“This whole road trip was a really good measuring stick for us,” Taylor Hall said. “We’re .500 right now, and we could be a lot better. There are parts of our game that we need to fix, and we showed that tonight...Whether you’re in Detroit or Chicago, these are good teams, if you let up on the gas pedal for two minutes or even five minutes, they are going to capitalize on it.”

Red Wings:
Detroit certainly snapped out of a funk this week, tallying ten goals in two games after a six-game winless streak in which it only scored six times. With two big wins this week, the Red Wings are looking as potent as ever with Franzen leading the charge.

Franzen has tallied three points in each of the Red Wings’ last two games, including a hat trick against the Avalanche in the Red Wings’ 5-2 win in Colorado. This victory followed a 5-0 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday night.

"We've been more relaxed since scoring the first two goals against Anaheim," Franzen said. "It seemed like the whole team got a load off our shoulders and we started to play better. We have the skill, but we had a lack of confidence."

It would seem their confidence is coming back, which is a welcome sight in Hockeytown as the Red Wings host the red-hot Oilers on Friday night.

"It's a step in the right direction," Mike Babcock said. "Our best players have come to life. It was just a matter of time."

Who’s Hot:
Johan Franzen boasts a team-best 13 points this season, with six points in his last two contests (four goals, two assists). … Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is living up to expectations in Edmonton, boasting a team-best 13 points with four points in his last five outings (two goals, two assists).

Injury Report: Patrick Eaves has missed the last three games with a sore back and is his status for Friday is unknown. … For Edmonton, defenseman Ryan Whitney (knee) is out.

Stat Pack: Edmonton has allowed the most goals per game with 1.80 while Detroit is ranked 9th in GA/G with 2.38.

Puck Drop:
“We’ve been playing fairly decent as of late,” said Ryan Smyth, who tallied a pair of goals after Thursday’s loss to Boston. “We have to put this one behind us. When you lose games like the way we did, we have to learn how to play a full 60 minutes, whether it’s against the Boston Bruins or the Detroit Red Wings.”

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