The Oilers play their last Eastern Conference opponent of the regular season, taking the ice at Rogers Place tonight against the Boston Bruins. The Bruins are fresh off a 5-2 win in Calgary, while the Oilers are coming off a 7-1 drubbing of the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night.
The Oilers will, for the first time in years, finish below .500 against Eastern Conference teams regardless of what happens tonight.
Considering how big last game was, the Oilers need to carry that momentum into tonight’s tilt. The Bruins, on a four game win streak, are fighting to keep a Wild Card spot in the East, while the Oilers are also hanging on to their spot.
With playoff implications on the line, this should turn out to be a pretty good game.
Keys to the Game
- The Oilers will be playing in front of a longtime, long distance fan tonight – our very own Alex Thomas is flying into Edmonton today to take in the game (and see what’s happening around the city this weekend). Hopefully he brings some luck our way.
- Get a lead and stay on top of it. The Oilers play best when they get out in front, and Tuesday is any indication, they could do with a solid lead to start the game.
- Keep the Oilers to the outside, and force them to take low risk shots. The Oilers do some of their best work between the dots and around the net, and keeping them to the perimeter will help.
- Neutralize the Oilers top line. Maroon, Draisaitl and McDavid combined for 5 points on Tuesday, and they’ve been hitting their stride a bit more. The Bruins should look to stop them if they want to keep the Oilers in check.
Players to Watch
- Drake Caggiula will draw in tonight, replacing Matt Hendricks on the 4th line. He’s had a bit of an up-and-down year, so it’ll be good if he can get some confidence back.
- Milan Lucic is facing the team he won a Cup with in 2011, where he played his best hockey. It’ll be interesting to see what he does tonight, and how that affects him.
- Connor. He’s crazy good and so fast and fun to watch and he’s all ours.
- Brad Marchand is on fire lately. He’s got 44 points in 29 games, and has overtaken Connor in the lead for the Art Ross trophy (with more goals). He’s definitely in the conversation for the Hart trophy.
- David Pastrnak scored his 30th goal of the year last night, and he’s clearly been riding a bit of a streak.
Patrick Maroon – Connor Mcavid – Leon Draisaitl
Milan Lucic – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jordan Eberle
Benoit Pouliot – David Desharnais – Zack Kassian
Drake Caggiula – Mark Letestu – Anton Slepyshev
Oscar Klefbom – Adam larsson
Andrej Sekera – Kris Russell
Darnell Nurse – Matt Benning
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Backes
Drew Stafford – David Krejci – David Pastrnak
Frank Vatrano – Ryan Spooner – Jimmy Hayes
Matt Beleskey – Dominic Moore – Riley Nash
Zdeno Chara – Brandon Carlo
Torey Krug – Adam McQuiad
Colin Miller – Kevan Miller
The Oilers need to win tonight to give themselves a chance. The upcoming games against the divisional rivals (7/11 remaining games against the Kings, Sharks, and Ducks) will essentially determine where the Oilers end up in the playoffs.
This is uncharted territory for Oiler fans, and the handwringing is a little out of control. They’ll win or lose as they’re going to. The difference is that this year, the playoff race happens to impact OUR team, not other teams, and we’re actively paying attention to the standings to see what playoff spot we’ll get, not what lottery spot we’ll get.
It’s a brave new world out there. Let’s enjoy it.