Friday, November 11, 2011

Game Day: Oilers vs Red Wings

Edmonton (9-4-2) vs Detroit (7-5-1)

Time:      5:30pm
Where:   Joe Louis Arena
Watch:    Sportsnet West
Listen:    630 Ched

Projected Line Combinations

Hall - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle
Smyth - Horcoff - Hemsky
Jones - Belanger - Gagner
Petrell - Lander - Paajarvi
After last nights loss to the Boston Bruins, look for the Oilers to make a change upfront, by inserting Magnus Paajarvi back into the lineup. My guess would be that the under performing Ben Eager comes out but it wouldn't shock me in the least, if they decide to sit Sam Gagner. The logical thing to do is sit Eager but we shall see. 
If Eager does come out, I am hoping that Paajarvi is placed on the fourth line and gets a chance to play with Anton Lander. There is clearly nothing there when he plays with Eric Belanger and Gagner so he might as well do it with Lander and Petrell. Who knows, the trio might be able to establish something against a Detroit team that is far from physical. Something else to consider, is playing the Red Wings is pretty special for young Swedish players so look for both Paajarvi and Lander to be ready to go on Friday night...anyway they could get Linus Omark up for the game?

Defence Pairings

Gilbert - Smid
Potter - Peckham

Barker - Petry

Cam Barker should be sitting in the press box for the penalty he took at the end of the Bruins game but I have a feeling he won't be. I am sure the coaching staff would like to get Sutton back into the lineup but with the Red Wings and Blackhawks up next, they may shy away form that match up. Obviously, Sutton's foot speed can be an issue at times and these are the types teams that are most likely to expose it.


Everyone was expecting a split in the back-to-back games but most thought Nikolai Khabibulin would get the call against the Bruins...Edmonton decided to go the opposite route. It sure didn't look like a sound decision last night but if Khabibulin continues his strong play against the Wings, it won't matter. The mindset of putting a greater priority on the Wings game, was the right call by the coaching staff. The Oilers would be seven points clear of the Red Wings with a regulation time victory but would find themselves only three points in front with a regulation loss...obviously these two points have the potential of being much more crucial at the end of the day.

Detroit Notes

  • After starting the season off 5-0-0, the Wings lost six in a row and have since won two in succession. The last two games being a 5-0 beat down of the Ducks and a 5-2 whipping of the Avalanche. Edmonton will be catching Red Wings on the upswing, which should make for some entertaining hockey.

  • After back-to-back three point nights, including a hat trick against the Avs, Johan Franzen is leading the team in goals with eight and points with thirteen. Like the rest of his teammates, Franzen's start has been inconsistent but he has always been streaky. When he gets on a run, he tends to put up a ton of points and he is currently in one of those stretches.
  • At the tender age of 41, defenceman Niklas Lidstrom has started off the season with a bang. It's not surprising that the future Hall of Famer has eleven points thru the clubs first thirteen games but the fact that he already has six goals is. With the start he has had, the veteran blueliner may be able to give his career high of 20 goals, back in 1999-2000, a run. With the style of game Lidstrom plays, would it surprise anyone if he plays until his mid 40's? He may want to retire and spend time with his family but I have no doubt that he could do it and at a high level.
  • Henrik Zetterberg is off to a slow start with only five points on the season but he always finds a way to put up points against Edmonton. The talented Swede is to good a player to not turn things around and I have little doubt that at seasons end, Zetterberg will be sitting at his customary point per game pace.
  • Defenceman Ian White has, not surprisingly, fit in very nicely to the Red Wings blueline. White has always been a solid player and on  team that already has the likes of Lidstrom, Niklas Kronwall and Brad Stuart in their top four, the veteran D man hasn't missed a beat.

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