It’s heard to believe that game number five for the Edmonton Oilers is the home opener and the end of the season series against another NHL team. That is exactly the case tonight, as the Oilers become the 31st and final team to open their home slate up. Tonight is also the second and final meeting on the year between the Oilers and the Bruins.
Boston took it to Edmonton last Thursday night, scoring four unanswered goals after the Oilers grabbed a 1-0 lead. The Bruins have now won two straight against the Oil, and are coming off of a 5-2 loss in Calgary last night.
Cam Talbot gets the start for the Oilers, while Jaroslav Halak goes for Boston in the second half of a back-to-back set.
Keys To The Game:
Edmonton: Quick starts are key for this Edmonton group. Far too often, the Oilers have taken their time getting into games. Although they play better as the night goes on, they end up spotting the opponent two or three goals. That can’t happen tonight. Attack a tired Boston team and get things going early to get the crowd into it.
Boston: Get back to basics. Nothing looked right for the Bruins last night in Calgary as they turned the puck over far too easily and never really threatened the Flames. Boston is a far better team than that. Play a simple game, within the system, and fallback on what allowed you to dominate the Oilers a week ago.
Players To Watch:
Edmonton: Leon Draisaitl played his best hockey of the season Tuesday night in the third period. He ended up getting Jesse Puljujarvi moved up to his line, and the two of them created offense and controlled the puck. They’ll play together tonight, and I suspect Leon shows well with his new wingers.
Boston: Welcome home Jake DeBrusk. I suspect had he been available with the 16th pick in 2015, the Oilers don’t trade for Griffin Reinhart and instead select the Edmonton kid. That would have been ideal. Tonight, DeBrusk returns to his hometown after scoring twice in his last two games. If history has shown us anything, it is that these guys show up for games back home.
After switching things up Tuesday night, McLellan is rolling with three new lines for this one. Zack Kassian is back into the lineup after sitting the last two out, while Drake Caggiula battles a lower body injury. Caggiula is currently day-to-day. Alex Chiasson is also out, sitting for the fifth straight time.
Defensively, Evan Bouchard returns after sitting Tuesday in place of veteran Jason Garrison. Garrison played a poor game Tuesday night and looked lost against a good Jets team.
Edmonton Oilers Lines:
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Connor McDavid – Ty Rattie
Tobias Rieder – Leon Draisaitl – Jesse Puljujarvi
Milan Lucic – Ryan Strome – Kailer Yamamoto
Jujhar Khaira – Kyle Brodziak – Zack Kassian
Oscar Klefbom – Adam Larsson
Darnell Nurse – Kris Russell
Matt Benning – Evan Bouchard
Danton Heinen returns to Boston’s lineup after missing last night’s contest as Andres Bjork sits for the Bruins. The Oil will get their first look at Ryan Donato tonight as well. Donato was scratched for last week’s meeting. Tuukka Rask will back up after giving up five goals to the Flames last night.
Boston Bruins Lines:
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Danton Heinen – David Krejci – Jake DeBrusk
Ryan Donato – David Backes – Chris Wagner
Joakim Nordstrom – Sean Kuraly – Noel Acciari
Zdeno Chara – Charlie McAvoy
Matt Grzelcyk – Kevan Miller
John Moore – Brandon Carlo
The Oilers are the last team to host their home opener this season. The Oilers have won two straight home openers, defeating Calgary in October of 2016 and 2017. Their last home opening loss? Against the St. Louis Blues in October of 2015. That was also after a multi-game road trip.
Boston’s Zdeno Chara is playing in his 900th game as a Bruin tonight. It’s amazing how long Big Z has been in Boston and just how good he has been through 899 games. In a long line of elite defenders to play for the organization, Chara’s name will live forever in Bruin lore. Is he the best UFA signing in NHL history?
The Bruins have won two straight in the series between these teams, including a comeback victory in Edmonton a year ago. After leading 2-0 after two, the Oilers surrendered three in the third en route to a regulation loss. Prior to that? It had been six straight wins for the Oil against Boston.
I like to believe that the Oilers finally saw what they are capable of on Tuesday night At home in what should be a loud building with a ton of momentum, I expect the Oil to start this game strong.
The new lines pay off early as Zack Kassian scores his first of the season to kick things off. The Oilers don’t lose the lead all night, and defeat Boston 4-2 to win their third in a row.
McDavid, Rieder and Draisaitl add tallies for the victors, while Marchand and DeBrusk score for Boston in the loss.