Tonight is the third of four games between these two teams this season. The Oilers lead the series 2-0, with overtime wins November 3rd in Detroit (4-3
) and November 17th in Edmonton (6-5
The Wings have won their last four, including wins over two possible first round opponents, LA Anaheim. Their most recent game, the win over Ducks, was a welcome change from the five or six game preceding it for this reason: the Wings' goaltending and defense only allowed one goal. Even better, the Ducks were a desperate team that needed to win so the final score is a confidence booster for fans who have doubts about the team defense and goaltending.
Manny Legace is slated to start tonight, based on what the papers said earlier this week. He may even start tomorrow night, if Babcock decides to test him in that way. The Wings evaluating their goalies now
, with mere 17 games remaining in the schedule. Hopefully one of the two will truly stand out so the team can go into the postseason having confidence in their goaltending.
The Oilers have won their last two, 2-1 over Minnesota on Tuesday and 3-2 over Calgary in OT on Thursday. They are in a stretch where every game is essentially a must-win situation and tonight is no exception. They are currently the 7th seed but could finish anywhere between 5th and 9th or 10th, depending on their performance over the next 15 games. They would love to beat the Wings tonight and then watch the Canucks lose to them tomorrow night because it would put them ahead of Vancouver going into the three-game miniseries they have next week.
Recently acquired goalie Dwayne Roloson will get the start tonight for the Oilers.
The way I see it, the Wings need to win tonight. They faced a bit of a test against the Ducks on Wednesday but that was nothing compared to what they'll face tonight. They have to assume this is a preview for the playoffs and they need to play like it. If Manny Legace isn't stellar, Chris Osgood will have my vote from here on out.
The Wings need to show they can go into Western Canada and win when it counts. This weekend is an important one and will give us a good idea of what this team is capable of in the long run.