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Detroit Red Wings Take on Edmonton Oilers at Joe Louis Arena

February 9th, 2013 at 7:00 AM
By Frank Vajcner

What: Edmonton Oilers at Detroit Red Wings

When: 2 p.m Saturday

Where: Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, Michigan

TV: Fox Sports Detroit, CBC

Records: The Red Wings are 5-4-1; the Oilers are 4-3-3

Coaches: Mike Babcock is 426-221-19-84 in his tenth season as a head coach, and 357-159-69 in his eighth season with the Red Wings. Ralph Krueger is 4-3-3 in his first year in the NHL as the Oilers' head coach.

Season Series: The Red Wings went 3-0-1 against the Oilers last season, winning both meetings at Joe Louis Arena.

Red Wings Update: Will the real Detroit Red Wings please stand up? After dropping two games by a combined score of 8-3, the Wings went to St. Louis and ran the Blues out of the building with a 5-1 victory. Most of the scoring was done by the bottom six forwards, as they combined for two goals and six assists. Rookie netminder Petr Mrazek was impressive in his NHL debut as he made 26 saves. The Wings have been led by team captain Henrik Zetterberg and his 14 points (5 goals, 9 assists). Zetterberg is also riding a seven game point streak. Pavel Datsyuk has tallied 10 points (3 goals, 7 assists), and rookie Damien Brunner is tied with Zetterberg for the team lead in goals scored with five. The Wings will be without Todd Bertuzzi (back), Darren Helm (back), Mikael Samuelsson (groin), Brendan Smith (shoulder), and Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder).

Oilers Update: The Oilers are probably the most improved team in the league thanks to their years of drafting young talent early. This is a team that has been in a lot of close games, including their last one, a 3-2 overtime loss to the Dallas Stars. Ales Hemsky and Justin Schultz scored for the Oilers in the loss. The Oilers are led in scoring by Sam Gagner's 11 points (3 goals, 8 assists). Taylor Hall has tallied 10 points (2 goals, 8 assists) and Nail Yakupov, the number one pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, leads the team in goals scored with five. Much like the Red Wings, the Oilers are also dealing with injuries as center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (shoulder) and defenseman Mark Fistric (back) are questionable for Saturday. Winger Ben Eager (concussion), forward Shawn Horcoff (knuckle), and forward Eric Belanger (toe) remain out.

PLAYER POSITION BREAKDOWNS

Centers: If Nugent-Hopkins can't play, the Oilers will be severely depleted down the middle with Belanger and Horcoff out. Gagner has struggled in the faceoff circle, winning 37% of his draws. Zetterberg remains steady at 50%, while Datsyuk continues to be strong winning draws. Jordan Eberle, who score 34 goals last season, will likely see action at center after spending a lot of time on the wing this season.

Edge: Red Wings

Wingers: Yakupov and Hall are two of the best younger wingers in the game, and their speed will test the Red Wings. Surprisingly, it was Drew Miller who led the Wings in scoring against the Oilers, as he scored four goals against them in four meetings last season. Valtteri Filppula also tallied two goals against the Oilers last year. If the Red Wings' third and fourth line wingers can keep up their success from Thursday…

Edge: Red Wings

Defensemen: Rookie Justin Schultz has been impressive. He leads all Oilers' defensemen with six points (3 goals, 3 assists) and leads the team in ice time per game (23:10).Even if Fistric doesn't play, the Oilers still have Jeff Petry (a Detroit native), Ladislav Smid, and Nick Schultz (no relation to Justin) to make up a solid group. The Wings will likely roll with Niklas Kronwall and Brian Lashoff as their top pair, and Kyle Quincey and Jonathan Ericsson as the second pair.

Edge: Even

Goaltending: Jimmy Howard (4-4-1, 3.07 GAA, .892 save percentage) will be back in net for the Red Wings. Howard went 2-0-0 against the Oilers last season with one shutout. Devan Dubnyk (4-3-3, 2.60 GAA, .923 save percentage) will likely start for the Oilers, despite starting all 10 games. He won his lone meeting against the Wings last season; a 5-4 shootout win in Edmonton. Backup Yann Danis is very inexperienced.

Edge: Slightly to Red Wings

Prediction: This is an Oilers team that many feel can make the playoffs, including yours truly. However, they are still dealing with some growing pains, as they are mired in a four game losing streak. With momentum from a big win, look for the Red Wings to win this one in a squeaker.

Make it: Red Wings 3, Oilers 2 in overtime.

Season Prediction Record: 4-6-0

Tags: Detroit, Detroit Red Wings, Edmonton Oilers, Hockey, NHL

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