There are more difficult teams to play against, but I don't think I roll my eyes harder than when I see the Red Wings coming up on the schedule.
It only took a month, but they're here.
Let's open the briefcase and see how (if?) the Oilers can avert disaster.
1) The Oilers are going to have to get production from their top line.
The Oilers have scored 35 goals in their first fourteen games. Today's top line of 64-89-83 has scored four goals on the season. Sam Gagner is immune from this critique, as he's only been back for a game since getting his jaw shattered to smithereens by Zack Kassian during the preseason. Why the heavy leaning upon the top line? Great expectations drop after the first line, and they drop precariously quick after the top six. Hall's knee is still a couple weeks away. David Perron will need an MRI. Ryan Smyth was playing defence in practice yesterday, which is a story line you can write on your own. Ryan Jones will likely start at 2LW, Arcobello is likely on the third line left wing (and Lander is likely on the other one), and the fourth line
are some nice boys who will surely give the opposition fits in their own zone gets to wear Oiler jerseys and sit on the bench with the rest of the team. If the top line could play 30 minutes, tonight's the night.
2) Exploiting the fatigue factor
The Red Wings are coming off a 4-3 victory in Calgary and will play their second game in as many nights. I don't think Pavel Datsyuk will be gasping for air out there, but I'm sure Coach Eakins will want to take note when guys like Brian Lashoff and Jakub Kindl pair up. Lashoff and Kindl were the bottom pair last night in Calgary, so some strategic operations will likely be needed in order to get your top line out there, but you've got the last line change, Coach. Arcobello-Gordon-Lander doesn't put fear in anyone? Re-read the point before this one.
3) Petr Mrazek is in goal for the Red Wings.
Hey guys! It's your good friend Petr Mrazek in goal. You remember me, right? It's my third career NHL game. Surely you've heard of me by now. No? That's okay, I'm the guy who's sporting a flashy .891 SV% in Grand Rapids this year. Still nothing?
Get Hemsky in front and throw everything on net. Everything. Not just pucks, but sticks, gloves, bags, helmets, fish, benches, anything and everything. There's no time to waste in this one, the Oilers have to put something in the back of the net. If there's two things I've always said, it's that we demand accountability, and we want stuff in nets.
That's the Oiler way.