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Game Preview, Oilers at Red Wings, 7:30 PM, with bonus other stuff!

Okay, you guys, you know how we all know already that the 2013 Winter Classic is going to be Red Wings vs Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium? And you know how we already know that the U of M Board of Regents approved the stadium lease to the NHL (even including beer sales)? Gary Bettman is finally ready to announce the Worst Kept Secret In Hockey (TM) tomorrow! Let’s all act surprised so the funny little troll feels gratified, okay? I know we boo him every time he shows up. Let’s throw him a bone for once. Keeps him on his toes.

Meanwhile, in the Wings’ training room… Jimmy Howard doesn’t have any real updates on his broken finger. “I got nothing for you,” he said, laughing, to reporters. “I’ve seen a doctor. I saw him this morning. It was the same news as before – it’s just going to take a little while to heal.” Tiberius did admit that he is a little concerned about losing some of his timing if he doesn’t get back in quickly. “Ideally, I’d really love a couple of good practices before I get in there,’’ Howard said. “It’s been seven days now, the timing can go away. Every single day my finger is getting better. One thing the doctor said was I’m lucky being young enough where the bone is going to (heal) faster. Hopefully by the end of the week I’m out there taking shots.”

So let’s move on to what we need to know for tonight’s game against Edmonton.

Joey MacDonald will be our starting goalie this evening. Danny Cleary will play in spite of a sore knee, and Brad Stuart has recovered sufficiently from his flu bug to play. (Meaning that Mike Commodore will be a healthy scratch.) Pavel Datsyuk will play, but will be taking only the very barest minimum of faceoffs. “He’s got a – I don’t even know – hand, wrist, forearm,” explained Mike Babcock. “He just doesn’t feel like he should take (faceoffs) right now. He can take them at key times of the game if we need him. We’re just going to back him off for a bit and get him ready to go.”

Furthermore, this will be Tomas Holmstrom’s 999th career game– not bad for the guy Scotty Bowman expected to send back to Sweden in 1998. (For those who don’t know the story, Homer told reporters he picked jersey number 96 for his draft year, and Scotty commented that he should have picked 98 instead because that’s the year he’d be done in the NHL and going back to Sweden. Even genius coaches are wrong on occasion.)

As well, the Wings are looking to extend their home winning streak to 18 games. This is the first of a six game homestand, and to say the Joe has been friendly to the Red Wings this year is an understatement. These next six games are going to be of great value to stash away points to help guarantee home ice advantage through most (or even all!) rounds of the playoffs.

The Oilers will have head coach Tom Renney back behind the bench tonight. Renney had to sit out for Monday’s 6-3 loss against Toronto after taking a puck to the head in practice that morning. Renney actually had to take the same concussion baseline tests the players do when they get knocked in the head.  “Failed it twice. It’s a good thing they had the Coke machine in Toronto or I would not have known who we played last.” The coach estimated that he had to get 12 stitches to close up the cut and thinks he’ll be okay behind the bench tonight. “I’ll be fine … if I don’t yell.”

Nikolai Khabibulin is expected to start in net. Defenseman Tom Gilbert will be back in the lineup after healing his injured ankle, but Calder-candidate Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will most likely be out due to a sore shoulder.

Fox Sports Detroit has our coverage for this one, 7:30 start time.

Let’s go, Red Wings! *clap clap clapclapclap*

Late update: Make that Fox Sports Detroit PLUS, not regular FSD!