Wings plot to thwart speedy Oilers

Gregg Krupa
The Detroit News

Detroit — The Oilers are, as they have been for a few seasons, young and fast and desperate for wins.

Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard will start against the Oilers.

The speed and desire are two things about which the Red Wings are concerned tonight, as they try to return to the winning side after a generally well-played, but losing effort against the Bruins Wednesday.

Some of the fast and desperate Edmonton forwards are prolific, too.

Taylor Hall has 24 points (nine goals, 15 assists) in 22 games, and carries a plus-11. Leon Draisaitl has 17 (seven goals, 10 assists) in 12 games.

"I think it's probably true of most players, but certainly someone like Taylor (Hall), and other guys on their team: You don't want to give them any ice at all," Blashill said.

"Once they get going, it's hard to contain them."

The Wings (11-8-3) began the day in the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference by virtue of one more win in overtime or regulation than the Lightning.

The Oilers are the worst team in the Western Conference with 15 points in 22 games.

Blashill said he will make no lineup changes other than starting Jimmy Howard in goal.

"We want to take away their space, certainly, before they start rolling," Blashill said of the Oilers' top gunners.

"It's easier said than done at times. We know a guy like Taylor Hall will create his own chances. We've got to make sure we don't give him any easy chances."

The Oilers lost 4-1 to the Hurricanes Wednesday, while the Red Wings had one of their best games of the season — almost certainly their best job of possessing the puck through the majority of regulation — losing 3-2 to the Bruins in overtime.

Edmonton is also losers of five of six, including one loss in overtime.

"We mainly focus on ourselves, for sure," Blashill said. "Our process has gotten better, and certainly as I said Wednesday night, if you play 10 games like that, you're going to win eight of them.

"Our job is to make sure you play 10 games like that, and you do it on a consistent basis.

"We feel like we can become a real good team. We feel like we are in that process. We've got to go out and prove it every night. And we certainly get a chance to do it against a group that beat us up in their building."

The Oilers beat the Red Wings, 3-1, on Oct. 21.

"My impressions were that they have lots of speed and lots of talent, and we made some mistakes where they outskated us then and had some real good opportunities," Blashill said.

"I think we did some real good things in the game, in terms of O-zone grind and stuff like that. But then, all of a sudden, we're giving odd-numbered rushes.

"If we're giving lots of odd-numbered rushes to them tonight, we'll be in trouble.

"If we can limit those opportunities and, again, make them earn their offense — we know they'll earn some of it, but we'll put ourselves in a much better position."