The Oilers have lost four in a row and it doesn't get easier. The Wings come in with depth problems and injuries to overcome. As bad as the Oilers team defense has been - the last thing they need is a bunch of shot clock killers romping all over them.
Oilers Report: The Oilers will make six lineup changes tonight, with Taylor Hall moving to Sam Gagner's line to make up what I would assume would be a power-vs-power line that will be able to go heads-up versus any line in the league. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins draws back into the lineup, and has a new left wing - Teemu Hartikainen. Hartikainen's low game against the boards and behind the net is growing every day, so it will be interesting to see how Hopkins and Eberle play off of it. Given the way Hartikainen draws people to him behind the net, there should be a ton of open space for Eberle to set up in. Ben Eager draws in on Ryan Smyth's left wing on what should be a checking line. Smyth ran out of gas at the end of the Dallas game, so Krueger may want to manage his shifts carefully. Finally, the fourth line has been blended heavily: Nail Yakupov moves to left wing there and Magnus Paajarvi flips to the right side. They'll play beside Chris VandeVelde, filling in for Eric Belanger, out with a gruesome broken toe.
None of this will matter if the Oilers can't get the puck out of their own end. They are 29th in shots against and 28th in shot differential.
Red Wings Report: The Wings have Ian White back in the lineup after White took a heel kick from Jimmy Howard in the thigh. But they're still fighting injuries to the lineup with Brendan Smith, Darren Helm, Carlo Colaiacovo and Mikael Samuelsson on the shelf. All four would be in the starting lineup if healthy, so the Wings have battled injuries as much, if not more than the Oilers to this point. Through it all, the Wings are still outshooting their opponents, but they aren't as dominant as they used to be. The MSM has jumped on the Lidstrom train, but when healthy, this lineup is still top notch and can hang with anyone in the league.
Expected Line Combinations
Taylor Hall - Sam Gagner - Ales Hemsky
Teemu Hartikainen - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle
Ben Eager - Ryan Smyth - Lennart Petrell
Nail Yakupov - Chris Vande Velde - Magnus Paajarvi
Ladislav Smid - Jeff Petry
Justin Schultz - Nick Schultz
Ryan Whitney - Corey Potter
Scratches: Mark Fistric, Eric Belanger, Darcy Hordichuk
By The Numbers
Detroit owned the season series in 2011-12, going 3-0-1.
The Wings are struggling on special teams, in fact they have the worst combined Special Teams in the league.
Detroit's top six has been possession dominant, averaging approximately +13 Corsi/60. Detroit's bottom six has been curbstomped to the tune of -13 Corsi/60. If you want to beat Detroit - draw even with the top six and make hay while the bottom six is on the ice
Surprisingly, Sam Gagner has 12 points in 18 career games against Detroit.
Taylor Hall has just 1 goal and 1 assist in 7 games against the Wings.