Monday, February 23, 2004

GameDay: vs. Edmonton (25-26-9-1 , 60) 9:00 EST

Tonight is the fourth and final matchup between the Wings and Oilers this season. The series is 2-0-1-0 in favor of Detroit. Most recently, the Wings beat Edmonton 2-1 last Monday with Legace in net. The Wings are riding a three game win streak into this short trip out West, where they will face Edmonton, Vancouver, and Calgary. This is an important trip for the Wings. Not only is it 3 games in 4 nights, but the Wings will be facing up against Vancouver defenseman Bryan Allen. This is the thug who broke Henrik Zetterberg's leg on a dirty slash and got into a minor collision with Derian Hatcher that left him with a torn ACL. I look for some payback in the Tuesday night matchup against the Canucks. The Oilers are coming off two big wins. Last Wednesday, they beat the Avs 5-1 in Denver. It was an emotional victory by the Oilers, and left the Avs bitter and frustrated.
"That was our worst game of the season. The bounces weren't going our way, and we weren't doing anything to create any bounces." (Colorado coach Tony Granato)
"It ranks right up there with the game in New Jersey last year and the game in Vancouver this year. Both times we were playing the hottest team in hockey, we were really struggling and came away with wins." (Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish)
"That's probably the worst game since we've been here -- we were flat. We were just terrible. No excuse for it; it was just embarrassing." (Avalanche captain Joe Sakic)
Then on Saturday, the Oilers beat the Canucks 4-3 in overtime. The Canucks were without leading scorer Markus Nasland, and this was their second loss in a row. But it was still a exciting win for Edmonton, who are currently out of the playoff picture by 7 points to eighth seed St Louis. For the Wings, divisional standings are pretty much a lock with the recent win over St Louis and a current 13 point margin in the Central. The Wings are now looking toward a Western Conference title, as well as a league title. The Wings are tied for first in the West at 80 points with Colorado, and only Ottawa has more points in the league with 81. With Colorado struggling as of late, going 4-3-1-2 in their last ten, this is our chance for the Wings to jump ahead. After five straight starts by backup Manny Legace, with Cujo injured, Marc Lamothe will get the start tonight. It will be his third NHL start, and first with the Wings. The other two came in 1999 with the Blackhawks. Notables: Ray Whitney is excited for tonight's game. He grew up in Edmonton, his father was a practice goalie for the Oilers, and Ray was a stick boy for the Oilers during their championship seasons of 1987 and 1988. So there's going to be a Ray Whitney cheering section tonight in the Rexall Place. Defenseman Jason Woolley will not play tonight, still sore with his back injury. He enjoyed the Wings' Saturday off: "For my back, it was good. I just iced it and laid around and did pretty much nothing, and that's what I needed."


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