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Red Wings return to Rexall tonight

by Staff Writer / Edmonton Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers face their opponents from the 2006 Western Conference Quarter Final tonight as they meet the Detroit Red Wings for the first time since their series last spring.

With a 4-2-0 record through the first six games, the Oilers are off to a strong start. When you factor in winning percentage (0.667), Edmonton is currently seventh overall in the league.

Detroit has had an up-and-down start to the year. They opened the season with a disappointing loss at home to Vancouver but have had some huge wins since, including a 9-2 drubbing of Phoenix. Recently, the Red Wings struggled through a California road swing. The Red Wings lost 4-1 to Anaheim and 5-1 to San Jose on consecutive nights.

The Red Wings will look to avenge their playoff series loss to the Oilers this evening on Hockey Night in Canada in addition to trying to move back above the .500 mark.

OILERS TO WATCH: Petr Sykora continues to lead the Oilers in scoring with eight points through six games. His linemate, Ales Hemsky, has a team-leading +5 rating to go with his five points and inexplicably leads the team with 12 penalty minutes The past two games against Vancouver, rookie Patrick Thoresen was one of the Oilers best forwards. One of only two Norwegians currently in the NHL, Thoresen has two goals this year including the game winner Tuesday versus the Canucks.

RED WINGS TO WATCH: Defenceman and four-time Norris Trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom hasnt yet scored his first goal of the season but his seven assists is enough to lead the Red Wings in points Second on the Wings in scoring is also a defenceman – Mathieu Schneider Dominik Hasek is back in Detroit and is off to a good start this season. He has a 2.17 goals-against average and has already netted a shutout through five starts in 2006-07.

ROSTER UPDATES: Edmonton – Fernando Pisani (knee) is probable. Detroit – Brad Norton (shoulder) has been placed on injured reserve. Valtteri Filppula has been recalled from Grand Rapids to replace him.

FAST FACTS: Heading into Thursdays action, Edmonton and Detroit were tied for fourth in the league with a 2.17 team goals-against average. Both teams had allowed 13 goals in six games played, though the Wings' GAA took a hit by letting in five goals Thursday night Detroit has allowed the fewest shots against in the league by a wide margin, letting only 18 shots through to their goaltender per game The goal allowed by the Red Wings in the third period on Wednesday in Anaheim was the first third-period goal Detroit allowed all season. They allowed two more the next night in San Jose Lidstrom had a five-game scoring streak snapped Wednesday in Anaheim.

QUOTABLE: "He's done everything right, right from the outset. He's maybe made as many plays as any of our forwards. It's time."
- Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish on forward Patrick Thoresen, who will play on the second line with Ales Hemsky and Petr Sykora tonight.

NEXT UP: The Oilers meet the Phoenix Coyotes at Rexall Place on Monday night at 7:00 p.m. MDT.
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