The Oilers got pounded last night in St. Louis for arguably their most painful loss of the season.
Thankfully, the team is in Detroit tonight so they have an opportunity to quickly wipe the slate clean and make everyone forget about what just happened. But in the same vein, they also have an opportunity to compound issues and stretch their losing streak to four games.
The Red Wings and Oilers played a couple weeks ago on a Sunday matinee in Edmonton. It was a painful one. Detroit won 4-0 and the Oilers looked completely listless. Since then, the Oilers have gone 3-4-1. They travelled East and did fairly well, going 2-1-1 on their New York trip, but have struggled since then. Over that same span, Detroit went 3-2-1, highlighted by a commanding 8-2 win over the Calgary Flames at home.
What are the Red Wings, exactly? Last season, they missed the playoffs for the first time since the collapse of the Berlin Wall and it was expected that, because of year after year of success finally catching up to them, they would continue to slide into oblivion. But the Wings have had a decent season thus far and currently sit in a playoff spot in the Atlantic Division. Part of that has to do with teams like Montreal and Boston underachieving, but Detroit deserves some praise for solid play.
Their shot numbers are roughly league average, but their goal numbers are superior largely because of very good goaltending. Jimmy Howard has had an excellent season, boasting a .928 save percentage while Petr Mrazek has been good but not great.
The team also excels on special teams, as Detroit’s power play and penalty kill each rank in the league’s top 10. As we know all too well, special teams can make a massive difference. The Oilers have been terrible on the PP and PK this year, which has played a key role in their terrible start.
Oilers (via Daily Faceoff)
Given that they played last night, the Oilers didn’t take a morning skate and therefore we don’t know yet what the lines are going to look like. Ryan Stanton was recalled from Bakersfield and Brad Malone was sent back down. Apparently, Matt Benning isn’t feeling 100 per cent so I assume Stanton or Yohann Auvitu will slide into the lineup (we’ll update as news comes out).
Cam Talbot will get the start after allowing two goals on three shots last night. He only played a few minutes, so he should be fresh and ready to go. Hopefully he redeems himself after ugly starts against Dallas and St. Louis. In his last five games, Talbot has .754 save percentage.
Red Wings (via Daily Faceoff)
Last time the Oilers and Red Wings played, Connor McDavid was shut down by Trevor Daley. We’ll likely see that matchup again while Henrik Zetterberg’s line also frequently goes against McDavid. Zetterberg’s line with Anthony Mantha and Gustav Nyquist are the team’s greatest scoring threat at even strength, but they’re also incredibly effective defensively.
Jimmy Howard will get the start for Detroit. Like I mentioned earlier, he’s having a great season, but it was Petr Mrazek who shut the Oilers out the last time the two teams met. Howard saved 33 of 37 shots in a loss to Colorado on Sunday.
What they’re saying…
First of all, I don’t think that the Red Wings are over-reaching by that much. There were some very vocal opinions in the offseason that said the team would be fighting for last place, but I think most reasonable people saw that the Wings were an average team who would more than likely land just outside of a playoff spot. If you go look at the standings right now, that’s exactly where they are.
But I did my due diligence and had a look at the numbers. At 5v5, the Wings are currently shooting at 7.79% (league average = 7.98%) and have a 93.12% save percentage (league average = 92.09%). They’re expected goals for (xGF) is at 36.5, while their actual goals for is at 37. They’re expected goals against (xGA) is at 39.12, while their actual goals against is at 35. So, they’re not far off from where the numbers are saying they should be. They are experiencing some above average goaltending from Jimmy Howard and that’s what’s keeping them afloat in the standings.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Edmonton comes out hard in the first period, scores a couple quick goals, and ends the losing streak. 4-2.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Connor McDavid has a huge game, scoring two goals and picking up an assist.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers are perfect on the penalty kill, which is impressive considering how good Detroit’s power play has been. They shut the Wings down on two different kills in the final 10 minutes.
Take home a growler, a crowler, a sixer, a mixer, whatever. Sherbrooke Liquor. Where’s Your Beer?
Source: NHL.com, Official Game Page, 11/22/2017, 12:00pm MST