DETROIT –If it’s extra hockey that you like, look no further then the Edmonton Oilers, who’ve gone to overtime or shoot-outs six times already this season.
Despite having a roster that consists of 40 percent former first-round draft picks, the young and talented Oilers (4-3-3) have struggled lately, getting outshot by double-digits in five of the last seven games.
“They probably got one or two more first-rounders for this year,” Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “They seem like they pop out new guys every year and they still have those guys from 4-5 years ago that came in as first-rounders. They should be better.
“I haven’t seen much of them so I can’t say how they’ve been doing this year, but they’re really skilled and if you let them play their game they’re a difficult team play against.”
Led by young 20-somethings Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall, as well as 19-year-olds Nail Yakupov and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – all former first-rounders – the Oilers have a terrific cast of up-and-comers posed to get Edmonton back to the Stanley Cup playoffs for the time since losing to Carolina in the Cup finals. Of course, that spring brings back particularly sour memories for the Wings, who were bounced from the playoffs by the Oilers, who were the eighth seed in the Western Conference.
Though they are 1-1-3 in their last five, the Oilers should be fun to watch when they play the Red Wings in a Saturday matinee at Joe Louis Arena.
PLAYER TO WATCH
RW NAIL YAKUPOV
Right Wing - EDM
GOALS: 5 | ASST: 3 | PTS: 8
SOG: 18 | +/-: -6
-- Last summer’s first overall pick in the draft, Yakupov (5G, 3A), who is represented by sports agent and former Red Wings hall-of-fame center Igor Larionov
, has registered at least one point in six straight contests for the Oilers. Yakupov’s speed and offensive flair can change the tide of a game in one shift. The former Sarnia Sting star is currently tied with Tampa Bay’s Cory Conacher and St. Louis’s Vladimir Tarasenko for the league’s rookie lead in goals.
Season Series: 0-0-0
2011-12 Season Series: 3-0-1
All-Time Series Record: 56-36-13-11
Edmonton’s 2011-12 Season Record: 29-46-7
Top Scorer vs. Red Wings: Sam Gagner – 4 Goals, 2 Assists in 4 Games
Red Wings’ Top Scorer – Henrik Zetterberg – 1 Goal, 5 Assists in 4 Games
Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose
Tickets to this game and all 18 remaining regular-season home games are currently available for purchase at the Joe Louis Arena box office (313-396-7575), all Ticketmaster (800-745-3000) outlets, and online at DetroitRedWings.com.