The Edmonton Oilers return home to Rogers Place after a wildly impressive 2-1-0 road trip to the southeast. Tonight, the Oilers get another stiff test as they host the Atlantic Division leading Boston Bruins. This is the second and final meeting this season between the sides.
The Oilers are coming off of an impressive 4-3 overtime victory in Carolina on Sunday. The Bruins, meanwhile, defeated the Rangers 3-1 at Madison Square Garden on Sunday. The Oilers beat the Bruins 4-1 at TD Garden on January 4th.
Mike Smith gets the start for the Oilers, while Tuukka Rask gets the go for the Bruins.
Keys To The Game:
Edmonton: We’ve said it before and we will say it again. Stick to the system and play a structured game. The Bruins are the deeper, more skilled team. If the shorthanded Oilers want a chance in this game, they can’t afford to take risks and turn the puck over. Play hard and play structured.
Boston: Don’t overlook this game. Yes the Oilers are banged up, but they can beat you. The Bruins have a nasty habit of overlooking opponents and losing games they should win. They’ve lost twice to Detroit and dropped games to teams like Los Angeles, Chicago, Ottawa and New Jersey.
Players To Watch:
Edmonton: Leon Draisaitl has an NHL best 95 points. He’s been terrific with McDavid out of the lineup and pushed his team to three wins in their last four games. He’ll need to be elite tonight against arguably the best team in hockey. Draisaitl is firmly in the Hart Trophy conversation. Can he push himself even closer to some hardware against the defending champions of the east?
Boston: David Pastrnak and Leon Draisaitl became close over the summer while working out together. They are close on the scoresheet now. Pastrnak is second in both goals and points in the NHL this season and is lethal on the powerplay. The Oilers will need to key in on him this evening to have a chance.
The Oilers will be without Connor McDavid (quad), Joakim Nygard (hand), Kris Russell (concussion) and James Neal (foot). All of them are on IR. Oscar Klefbom (shoulder) joined them on IR today and will miss 2-3 weeks. Zack Kassian is serving the third game of his suspension while Markus Granlund was assigned to AHL Bakersfield.
Edmonton Oilers Lines:
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Leon Draisaitl – Kailer Yamamoto
Tyler Benson – Riley Sheahan – Josh Archibald
Sam Gagner – Gaetan Haas – Alex Chiasson
Jujhar Khaira – Colby Cave – Patrick Russell
Darnell Nurse – Ethan Bear
Caleb Jones – Adam Larsson
William Lagesson – Matt Benning
The Bruins enter tonight relatively healthy. Defensemen Connor Clifton (lower-body) and Kevan Miller (lower-body) are both on IR. John Moore, Anton Blidh and Par Lindholm are the healthy scratches.
Boston Bruins Lines:
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk – David Krejci – Karson Kuhlman
Anders Bjork – Charlie Coyle – Danton Heinen
Joakim Nordstrom – Sean Kuraly – Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara – Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug – Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk – Jeremy Lauzon
“Two games and this feels like a whirlwind. This feels like six periods in a game,” Dave Tippett said post-game on Sunday. “I loved the way our guys just kept hanging around it and got the job done.”
The Oilers have enjoyed some success against the Bruins in recent years. Edmonton is 8-2-0 in their last ten games against the Bruins. That includes a 4-1-0 mark in their last five games in Edmonton. The Oilers are 2-1-0 against the Bruins at Rogers Place.
Tonight will be a battle of elite powerplays. The Bruins and Oilers are tied for the most powerplay goals scored this season, each with 51. The Bruins, however, have also drawn the most penalties in the NHL at 254.