Another late game tonight as the Red Wings take the Rexall ice in Edmonton to battle the Oilers. The biggest question at this point in time is: Who is sitting? According to reports, Johan Franzen will be rejoining the active squad, and coach Mike Babcock has stated that dejected forward Jiri Hudler will also suit up. Considering how well the 3rd line has been playing, it's hard to imagine anyone from that line being benched, though veteran Mike Modano is a possibility, as tonight's game is the first of back-to-back matches. Babs could decide to rest Modano for the game Saturday against the Canucks. The other option, which most believe to be the case, would be to bench a 4th liner and squeeze Hudler in that way.
In any event, we can only hope that things click as well tonight as they did in Calgary. Let's have a quick gander at The Geek's Winning Formula for tonight's matchup:
1.) Turn on the Power - Compared to last year, the Wings have looked improved on the man-advantage, but I was a little concerned that Calgary gave up 7 PP opportunities and Detroit didn't burn the Flames once. I was prepared for that to haunt the Wings should Calgary have tied the game. The Red Wings need to simplify and get back to hurting teams who give them the man-up.
2.) Hole in the Wall - Khabibulin is one of those goaltenders that can get really hot if he makes a lot of saves early on. If the Wings can put a chink in his armor early, it will only mean good things down the road during the course of this game. The Bulin Wall has been thrown in front of Detroit before, I'd prefer tonight not be one of those occasions. Coincidentally, if anyone has some Smirnoff to send Khabi's way...?
3.) The Kids Aren't Alright - Edmonton is a young team. Detroit is an experienced team. You don't need to be a geek to know where this is going, but I'll say it anyway: Detroit needs to capitalize on the mistakes of the freshman on this youthful Oilers team. Very likely Edmonton will look to use speed to their advantage and the Red Wings simply need to counter this with smart hockey. If Detroit gets too fancy, we could see a lot of turnovers and odd-man rushes thanks to Edmonton's young legs.
I'll be missing the first portion of the game for work, but you'll likely see me on Twitter by around the 2nd period!
Enjoy the game, Wingnuts! Let's Go Red Wings!!