Red Wings-Oilers Preview
The Detroit Red Wings are focused on playing better hockey. The young Edmonton Oilers believe they’ve turned the corner with back-to-back wins.
As they continue a four-game Canadian trip, the Red Wings look to avoid a third straight loss with their ninth consecutive win over the improving Oilers on Wednesday night.
Detroit was riding high after opening with three straight wins, but it’s looking to regroup after Friday’s 5-3 loss to visiting Carolina and Saturday’s 4-1 defeat at Montreal.
The Red Wings easily rank last in the league at 21.4 shots per game while allowing 33.4 – among the most. They’ve been outshot 88-41 in two road games.
The top line of Henrik Zetterberg, Justin Abdelkader and Dylan Larkin has scored eight goals, but the rest of the team has totaled seven. Larkin has recorded at least one point in his first five career games after scoring against the Canadiens.
"I look at the shot total for and the shot differential, we won’t have long-term success if those stats stay the same," coach Jeff Blashill told the team’s official website. "I think our job as a coaching staff is try to figure out what we can work on to make sure that doesn’t happen and certainly I think we got to get the puck out of our end better."
After allowing four goals in their first three games, the Red Wings have given up nine in the past two. Petr Mrazek is expected to be back between the pipes after stopping 37 of 40 shots Saturday.
In his only career start at Edmonton, he had 14 saves in a 5-0 victory Nov. 2, 2013.
The Wings, though, probably won’t be able to depend on a repeat performance of that game if they don’t improve in numerous areas.
"Too many turnovers, all over the ice, winning more puck battles," defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. "There are a lot of things we need to get better at."
Detroit (3-2-0) can tie for the longest active winning streak against an opponent Wednesday, and it’s also earned at least a point in 17 straight meetings (15-0-2) with the Oilers. Extending that will tie it with Arizona for the longest active such streak, with the Coyotes’ also coming against Edmonton.
Zetterberg has a 10-game point streak in the series, recording a goal and 14 assists.
The Oilers (2-4-0), though, appear to have gotten on track after getting outscored 13-5 during an 0-4 start. Nail Yakupov scored for the second time in as many games Sunday and Lauri Korpikoski had an overtime goal for a 2-1 win at Vancouver.
”We’ve still got a lot of work to do,” coach Todd McLellan said. ”But we have guys believing now in each other and perhaps in the system.”
The Red Wings will get their first look at top overall pick Connor McDavid, who has a team-high three goals and two assists. The highly touted center is looking forward to this stretch of seven of eight at home after all the attention he faced on the road.
"I’m trying not to get too involved in all the media (hype) and all that stuff," McDavid said. "I’m just looking for some sense of normal."
Though Anders Nilsson stopped 34 shots Sunday, Cam Talbot is expected to be back in net for Edmonton.