|Oilers try to bring D up to speed vs. Wings|
The Edmonton Oilers have built a 6-1 record on the strength of their offense. With the Detroit Red Wings coming to town on Friday, coach Dave Tippett would like to see his team provide more assistance on the back end.
The Oilers defeated Philadelphia 6-3 on Wednesday despite allowing a whopping 52 shots on goal. Mikko Koskinen literally saved the day by making a career-high 49 stops.
"It wasn't a 6-3 game or a 6-1 game. The score was that, but it wasn't that kind of game," Tippett told reporters. "We've already talked about it as coaches -- this is a really good teaching one just because you can't play like that and expect to be a playoff team."
Koskinen enjoys the offensive support -- the Oilers are averaging 4.0 goals per game -- but would prefer to have a quieter night in his zone.
"Hopefully that's going to happen every night," Koskinen said to NHL.com of the goal production. "Otherwise I'm going to be exhausted."
The loss of defenseman Joel Persson in the short run won't help. He's expected to miss 7-10 days after being placed in the league's concussion protocol on Thursday.
The Oilers have rotated Koskinen and Mike Smith in goal, and they've combined for a .922 save percentage.
All-Star center Connor McDavid is off to a red-hot start to lead the offense. He had five points against the Flyers, upping his season total to 17. He joins Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux as the only players in the last 26 seasons to record 17 points in their first seven games.
The Wings will be facing Edmonton for the first time since their longtime GM Ken Holland was hired by the Oilers in the same position. Former Detroit star and Tampa Bay GM Steve Yzerman is now the Wings' GM.
Holland still has a strong affinity for his former team.
"I am happy they are in the East and they are in the West, so other than the two times we play, I'm rooting for them," he said to the Detroit Free Press. "I'm rooting for them, I'm rooting for Steve, rooting for them to surprise. Every year there are two or three or more teams that the oddsmakers thought were not going to be in the playoffs. I'm hoping the Wings are going to be one of those surprises."
The Wings have dropped their last three games, including a 5-1 loss at Calgary on Thursday. Detroit has given up five goals in each of those losses.
Coach Jeff Blashill shook up his lines, including moving wing Darren Helm to the first line to replace Tyler Bertuzzi as the grinder alongside prolific scorers Anthony Mantha and Dylan Larkin. Helm scored the only goal against the Flames but he also committed a major slashing penalty in the third period that could result in a league suspension.
"We're not playing well," Mantha told reporters. "We're not hard on (the opponent), we're not hard in our O zone. Our forecheck hasn't been good lately. We need to figure out something quick."
--Field Level Media