Oilers-Red Wings Preview
The Detroit Red Wings have broken out of a scoring slump with
back-to-back huge efforts. Now they’ll try to keep that going
against the NHL’s hottest goaltender.
The Red Wings will try to extend their five-game winning streak
over the Edmonton Oilers, who will start Nikolai Khabibulin in goal
Friday night at Joe Louis Arena.
Detroit (7-5-1) totaled six goals during a six-game slide Oct.
22-Nov. 3 before scoring five in consecutive victories. Johan
Franzen was held without a point during that slide before amassing
four goals and two assists the last two contests.
“He’s a huge, gifted man,” coach Mike Babcock said.
Franzen will look to beat Khabibulin, who will be back in goal
after backup Devan Dubnyk made 22 saves in Thursday’s 6-3 loss at
Coach Tom Renney indicated that he gave Dubnyk that start
because it was not against a Western Conference team, with the plan
to start Khabibulin on Friday and probably Sunday at Chicago.
“This is a part of the schedule that we looked in September and
suggested to ourselves that we would make sure that we would have
to split,” Renney said. “But it also gives us a chance to come back
with Khabi tomorrow night, and should we hope to, the same thing
Khabibulin is 7-0-2 with a league-best 0.98 goals-against
average. He’s won six straight starts for the first time since an
eight-game run Feb. 23-March 6, 2004, with Tampa Bay.
That streak ended with a 1-1 tie at Joe Louis Arena, where
Khabibulin is 8-17-0 with two ties in 27 career starts including
seven in the postseason. He’s lost five straight in Detroit with a
The Oilers (9-4-2) fell to 2-2-0 on this six-game trip by
conceding a season high in goals Thursday. Ryan Smyth was a lone
bright spot with two goals, and he now has 11 points during a
“There were times when we kind of got together and played the
way we had been playing this whole season,” left wing Taylor Hall
said. “And then, a turnover here, an overskate of the puck there
kind of turned it around for them.”
Renney blamed a poor start in which his team was outshot 10-3 as
well as his club’s numerous turnovers.
“We didn’t want to stay with it,” Renney said. “That’s an
immature look, that’s an immature team and it’s not just that we
got young players doing that. We have veteran players turning pucks
Franzen has recorded all of his eight goals and 13 points in
Detroit’s seven wins. He had a hat trick in Tuesday’s 5-2 win over
Colorado after assisting on the Red Wings’ first two goals in last
Saturday’s 5-0 win over Anaheim.
“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.”
Red Wings top goaltender Jimmy Howard is not far behind
Khabibulin with a 1.79 GAA. Howard has a 1.97 GAA in winning his
last four starts against Edmonton.