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The Malik Report

Red Wings-Oilers morning skate Tweets and articles: Wings gear up for Oilers + Mantha stuff

Updated 2x at 11:40 AM: The Detroit Red Wings host the Edmonton Oilers this evening (7 PM EST on FSD/Sportsnet West/97.1 FM), and the Oilers are going to be in a foul mood as their 3-game losing streak was punctuated by an 8-3 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday evening.

A trio of Red Wings-Oilers previews hit the interweb in the wee hours of the morning, including one from the Oilers website's Mark Ciampa and Chris Westcott, who report that the Oilers won't hold a morning skate...

OILERS (7-12-2) at RED WINGS (10-8-3)

TV: 5 p.m. MT; Televised on Sportsnet West

Head-to-Head::The Oilers will get the Detroit Red Wings on their tail end of a back-to-back, having played in St. Louis on Tuesday night.

The game against the Red Wings is a rematch of their November 5, showdown at Rogers Place, in which the Oilers dropped a disappointing 4-0 decision. Four different Red Wings players scored, while the Oilers couldn't generate any offence of their own in the game.

The Oilers have struggled against the Red Wings, going 4-13-4 in their last 21 games versus Detroit. Three of those four wins have come in the last five games.

The Oilers are 1-7-3 in their last 11 games in Detroit.

Oilers team scope:: The Oilers have dropped three straight games, two to begin this five-game road trip.

Edmonton looks to avoid four straight losses for the second time this season, dropping four straight in October.

Connor McDavid leads the team in scoring with 26 points (10-16-26). Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is second on the team with 17 (8-9-17).

Red Wings team scope:: The Red Wings have had two days off from games since a 4-3 overtime loss against Colorado on Sunday. Detroit has won four of their last seven, including that 4-0 win in Edmonton.

Dylan Larkin leads Detroit in scoring this season with 20 points (4-16-20) through 21 games. Anthony Mantha is second on the team with 19 (10-9-19).

The gents continue, and the Associated Press also filed a middle-of-the-night game preview...

The Wings (10-8-3) are much more concerned about learning from their last game. Facing a Colorado Avalanche team that had played the night before and been humbled 5-2 by the Nashville Predators, Detroit squandered a third-period lead and lost 4-3 in overtime.

“We’ve just got to be better than we were last game,” [Darren] Helm said. “That’s all it is. We’ve just got to be better.”

The Oilers arrive in Detroit after being manhandled 8-3 on Tuesday by the St. Louis Blues, but the Wings have lost their last two games while facing teams that played the previous night.

“I think we’ve gained an understanding over the last month of the type of hockey we have to play to be successful,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. “I think we know that. We revisited it this morning. I thought we did a good job up there (in Edmonton) of being able to get pucks behind them and forecheck, spend time in their end and spend little time in their D zone. They’re a really good O-zone team. The last game on Sunday, we had the most D-zone time we’ve had all year and we certainly don’t want that against Edmonton, because they’ll be a handful.”

Detroit’s checking line of Helm, Frans Nielsen and Luke Glendening were effective in shutting down Oilers star Connor McDavid in Edmonton and can expect to handle that assignment even more frequently, since Detroit will hold the last change on home ice.

“It’s a great opportunity, a great challenge,” Helm said. “It’s not an easy one for sure. He’s definitely one of the best players in the league. He’s very dangerous with the puck. You put a lot on yourself to be good, and that could be the difference in the game.”

The Oilers (7-12-2) have lost three in a row and been outscored 18-7 in the process. They are 0-2 thus far on their five-game road trip and are second-last overall in the Western Conference.

And Reuters filed a game preview/prediction:

ABOUT THE OILERS (7-12-2): McDavid continues to improve his offensive numbers (10 goals, 26 points), but Edmonton has struggled to find the right linemates for its captain. Leon Draisaitl, who has spent time on McDavid’s wing, snapped a five-game goal-scoring drought Tuesday with one tally and an assist while Ryan Nugent-Hopkins set up a pair of tallies to give him five points in his last four contests. Backup Laurent Brossoit was expected to get the start in net Wednesday, but with Talbot’s early exit against St. Louis, coach Todd McLellan could make a change.

ABOUT THE RED WINGS (10-8-3): Dylan Larkin has taken over the team scoring lead with 20 points - one better than Anthony Mantha - after notching a pair of goals and three assists over his last three games. Mantha leads the way with 10 goals and defenseman Mike Green has matched Larkin with 16 assists through 21 contests, while both have been key to an improving power play by registering a total of 14 points. Jimmy Howard (8-5-2, 2.34 goals-against average, .928 save percentage) is expected to be in net against Edmonton after earning at least one point in five consecutive contests (3-0-2).

1. The Red Wings blanked Edmonton 4-0 on Nov. 5 after the Oilers had gone 3-0-1 in the previous four meetings.

2. Detroit RW Martin Frk, who recorded a goal and an assist in the first meeting, is questionable for Wednesday due to a groin injury.

3. Edmonton failed on its only chance with the man advantage Tuesday but is 5-for-10 on the power play over its last four contests.

PREDICTION: Oilers 5, Red Wings 3

Also of Red Wings-related note:

1. DetroitRedWings.com's Arthur J. Regner spoke with Dr. Murray Howe in the latest edition of the Red and White Authority podcast:

2. CBS Detroit's Will Burtchfield filed an article discussing Anthony Mantha's status as a net-front player on the power play:

“When you’re a young player coming up, you want to do what you’ve done, and most of these guys have all played on the flank somewhere on the power play and handled the puck the whole time. But not everyone gets to do that here,” said Blashill. “It’s just a matter of spots. I talked to him when camp opened and said, ‘This is the spot I have for you and you have to embrace it.’”

Mantha has answered Blashill’s challenge. Through 21 games, the 23-year-old forward has five power play goals. Only three NHL players have more. He has found the back of the net by planting himself in front of it and refusing to move.

Of course, it helps that he’s built like a truck. And it doesn’t hurt that he’s got hands like grease. Take those two assets together, and it’s almost like Mantha was made for this – namely, to torment goalies on the power play.

“You could say so,” Mantha said with a shrug. “Obviously, the bigger body you are, the easier maybe the net-front is, just to get in front of that goalie’s eyes. I mean, you’re not going to send a guy that’s 5’10 in front of (Ben) Bishop who’s 6’7. I think it’s just an easier role for me than other guys.”

He talks casually about it now, almost like he’s been doing it his whole life. But nothing could be further from the truth. Mantha was always the star player growing up, all the way through the Quebec Major Junior League, and star players aren’t asked to play in front of the net. It’s a role reserved for the gritty players, the ones with less skill.

Players like Mike Knuble, who coached Mantha for parts of three seasons with the Grand Rapids Griffins. Knuble made a living in front of the net over a 16-year NHL career, scoring nearly a third of his 278 goals on the power play.

“It was a way for me to survive. I’m very thankful that I discovered that role and was given a chance to get that role. It changed my life to be able to play in that role,” Knuble told 97.1 The Ticket.

Burtchfield continues, and I could not find the Knuble interview archived on The Ticket's audio pages...

3. The Red Wings revealed their new organ with a guest star on the keys:

In terms of the morning skate itself:

MLive's Ansar Khan was the first to weigh in...

Ericsson not skating this morning.
#RedWings defense pairs:
Witkowski (suspended)
Howard will make 5th start in row against @EdmontonOilers at 7,  half hour earlier than usual tonight.


#RedWings power-play units:
Nyquist-Zetterberg-Abdelkader (net front), Kronwall-Tatar
Larkin-Nielsen-Mantha (net front), Athanasiou-Green

Followed by DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji...

#RedWings Nick Lidstrom is in town and at @LCArena_Detroit right now.

The Red Wings also said, "Hello"...

Also of Red Wings-related note:

In the prospect department, "I missed it" version:

As Red Wings prospects notes, Dennis Cholowski's first game as the Prince George Cougars went OK. He had 2 assists as Prince George dropped a 7-4 decision to the Medicine Hat Tigers.


Update: An Andreas Athanasiou goal is among NHL.com's "Plays of the Week":

After the skate, per Wakiji...

#RedWings Blashill said Ericsson a game-time decision.


Blashill said Ericsson is game time decision. Tweaked something, apparently picking up his child. #RedWings


Blashill said Frk (groin) skated on his own last couple days. Needs couple full practices next week. So at least a week away. #RedWings

The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan...

Ericsson a game time decision...sounds like he may have tweaked something


That something apparently happened while lifting his child out of a crib

And the Free Press's Helene St. James:

Jonathan Ericsson a game-time decision. Blashill intimated Ericsson tweaked something picking up a baby. #RedWings

Update #2: From Sportsnet's John Shannon:

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink


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About The Malik Report

The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.