Oilers Report: Ben Eager's terrible play forced Ralph Krueger into scratching him, though Krueger attributes it to Detroit being less physical than Columbus (and look how that worked out). That means Chris Vandevelde is back in and in the middle of Ryan Jones and Mike Brown. That also leaves Nail Yakupov on Eric Belanger's wing.
Ian White is in Mike Babcock's doghouse, but is a quality defender. If he stays in the doghouse for the rest of the season, that's a guy the Oilers must target in the off-season via free agency.Report:
Expected Line Combinations
Ales Hemsky- -
- Eric Belanger - Nail Yakupov
Chris Vande Velde - Mike Brown-
Ladislav Smid - Jeff Petry
Justin Schultz - Nick Schultz
Ryan Whitney - Corey Potter
Scratches: Theo Peckham, Ben Eager, Lennart Petrell
By The Numbers
Detroit had the worst special teams in the league. early in the season, while Edmonton led the league until just last week. Now Edmonton is off 5 percentage points from their high, while Detroit is up 10 percentage points from their low-water mark. That's a bad trend for the Oilers heading into tonight's game.
One way the Oilers could help themselves is to get Nail Yakupov on the ice during he power play. Yakupov possesses the best shot on the team, yet he's sixth in power play time on ice.
Detroit's problems are almost purely based on special teams. Their Fenwick close is still 52%, their even strength save percentage is .933. If they put up an STE of 100 through their next 25 games, they will clinch the 6th seed in the Western Conference relatively easily and likely challenge Anaheim for the 5th seed as far-fetched as that seems right now.
Taylor Hall played with a bad hamstring in Columbus and probably shouldn't have. Hall has missed 39 of a possible 186 games in his career to injury thus far.