The Oilers skate into Detroit hoping to match the effort they played with last Thursday in Dallas. Over the last 18 years the Stars owned the Oilers, but the Oilers dominated them last week, and tonight they face a Wings team they’ve only beaten 24 times in their last 73 meetings.
Can they slay the dragon for the second Thursday in a row?
It will be a daunting task, but few people expected the Oilers to get a point in Chicago and two in Dallas, and that’s exactly why we will all be watching tonight.
The top lines stay the same, while Chris Vande Velde draws in and Ben Eager takes a seat in the press box. Krueger stated this morning the need to get all four lines going, but realistically I think he’d settle for getting two going.
If you are wondering why Eager is out, and why the Oilers acquired Brown, take a look at these sobering numbers that Micheal Parkatti graciously sent me when I asked for them. Parkatti does a recap of every game at boysonthebus.com
|Name||While on ice||Game 1||Game 11||12||13||G14||G 15||G 16||G 17||G18||G 19||G 20||G 21||G 22||Totals|
|Eager||Shots Attempts For||6||6||2||1||13||9||9||14||4||7||5||1||9||86|
|Eager||Shots Attempts Against||14||11||5||12||12||13||11||12||12||15||23||13||11||164|
|Eager||Net Shot Attempts||-8||-5||-3||-11||1||-4||-2||2||-8||-8||-18||-12||-2||-78|
|Team||Net Shot Attempts||0||-16||-19||-4||25||-31||-3||2||-37||-17||-19||-8||-7||-134|
The percent of net differential while Eager is on the ice is a mind-blowing 58%.
For non-believers of Corsi, that is incredibly high considering how little time he spends on the ice. Keep in mind that includes all shots attempts; shots on goal, blocked shots and shots that missed the net.
Someone might look at Eager’s +/- and suggest he’s only -4, but that is in 13 games with only 9:36 of TOI/game. Either way you slice it, it is brutal. And it explains why the Oilers added Brown. Brown isn’t perfect either, but he hasn’t been a defensive liability along the lines of Eager, and his reputation suggests he’s more consistent in his physical play.
I want to be clear that Eager isn’t the reason the Oilers are losing, but obviously he isn’t pulling his weight. Krueger will be looking for more consistency out of his 4th line and hopefully some production. Jones has proven in the past he can score in limited minutes, so we’ll see if he can produce on the 4th line.
Realistically if the Oilers are going to win tonight, their top two lines need to be good, and their PP needs to awaken from its recent slumber. They are 3 for 25 in their last 7 games, and in the three games where they scored a PP goal they won twice and lost in OT.
The Oilers lack of finish with the man advantage in Columbus cost them a point. If they score on that 4-on-3, they win and Eberle had two glorious chances. We all saw his reaction after he couldn’t lift the puck over Bobrovsky’s pads, but that is a shot Eberle has to make. Ideally you don’t want all the pressure to win on the shoulders of your young players, but that’s how it is in Edmonton and I guarantee you Eberle is livid he didn’t score in OT.
Petry has three goals and five points in the first five games of the road trip. He’s had some luck by just putting pucks on net, and you wonder if his teammates follow suit. Whitney has two goals in the last three games and he’s been much more involved offensively. The good news for the Oilers is that they are finally getting some production from their blueline.
He is 2-0-1 with a 2.47 GAA and 0.931 SV% vs. Detroit. Yes, it is a small sample size, but he’s got 5 of 6 points in his career v. Detroit. In fact, all three games have gone to OT. He’s 1-1 in OT and 1-0 in the SO. His only start in Detroit he stopped 42 of 44 shots on March 11th, 2011.
- Watched the entire Chicago/Colorado game last night. The Hawks are entertaining to watch regardless of who they play. They push the pace the entire game. They never sit back, and Toews has to be amongst top-five centres, if not higher, in the game. Very complete player.
- If Patrick Sharp is out for any extended period of time, that would be a huge blow for them. He left midway through the 3rd favouring his shoulder. He’ll miss some games, just not sure how many according to Quenneville.
- If the Oilers continue their trend of turning the puck over at the offensive blueline, the Wings will dominate territorially and on shot attempts. Datsyuk is the best in the league at creating turnovers so the Oilers need to be smart with the puck.
- Might only interest me, but in the limited games he’s played Chris Vande Velde has faced the 5th toughest competition amongst Oiler forwards. And really it is 4th because he didn’t play when Horcoff was in the lineup.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Just when you think the Oilers are done, they surprise you with an effort like tonight. 3-2 win.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Datsyuk will have you sitting in awe at least once with one of his "sick" dangles.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Tootoo Train and Moustache Mayhem will collide at centre ice for one of the best hits of the season. The great part is that neither one will have had the puck, and neither fanbase will know who initiated the contact.