EDMONTON - The Boston Bruins arrived in Alberta coming off their ninth win in 10 tries, and the B's will look to continue that impressive play when they take on the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday night.
For the third time in his young career, Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk returns to his hometown of Edmonton where he grew up watching his father skate for the resident Oilers. Now as an NHL player himself, DeBrusk relishes the chance to get a few days at home.
"We don't get this amount of time in Edmonton [usually], so it's kind of nice to get," said DeBrusk. "Saw some friends yesterday…Today is family time and get ready for the game. It's obviously special but it's one of those things that kind of just comes and goes pretty fast, it's nice to have some days here."
Getting to see his dad, who played parts of 11 seasons in the National Hockey League, is a big highlight for the 23-year-old.
"Anytime that I can get to see my dad, it's always nice," said DeBrusk. "It's definitely brings that element to it. This is my third time doing it, but definitely feels pretty similar every time we come into Edmonton. It's a little snowy out there but this time of year but it's nice to be back in the mix for sure."
Video: DeBrusk Addresses Media After Practice in Edmonton
Keep It Rolling
With wins in nine of 10 contests, the Bruins are playing some of their most consistent hockey of the season. Bruce Cassidy noted that he noticed an uptick in consistency after a
The Edmonton Oilers enter Wednesday night's matchup having won three of four, and currently sit atop the clustered Pacific division with 70 points.
"They played well against us in our building," said head coach Bruce Cassidy, referencing a recent 4-1 loss to the Oilers at TD Garden. "I don't know if we had our A-game, but credit to them too. They did a lot of things well and we didn't get to our game, so that'll be our challenge tomorrow. We're playing better hockey now as a group; we're healthy, fortunately.
"Obviously, the Oilers have all of their weapons - not all their weapons, but they have enough weapons every night. I know McDavid's out and [Zack] Kassian, good players for them. They seem to have survived that, and that's the mark of a good team. A team that plays with a lot of structure, they can plug guys in and still get points. So, that'll be our challenge."
Video: Cassidy Speaks With Media After Practice in Edmonton
While Edmonton currently tops the Pacific division, they are one of five teams all within two points of one another.
"Obviously, they're in a tight playoff race, that division is pretty tight right now," said DeBrusk. "A lot of jockeying. [We] definitely expect a desperate team looking to get two points and we understand that we have a team kind of doing the same thing on our side too. It seems like this time of year, the games kind of get amped up. It's for seeding, anything to get those two points we understand that no matter who they have in the lineup they're going to give the best they got."
Bruins leading scorer David Pastrnak is extra familiar with the Oilers leading scorer Leon Draisaitl, as the two work out together over summer.
"We've become close friends through the summer," said Pastrnak. "I'm really happy for him. Like I said, he's having a great season. I remember before we signed these contracts we were hanging out a lot so, I'm really happy for him. It's always fun times with him and he works really hard. It's well deserved. He probably already did get to 100, no? Close? Well hopefully we can keep in from one more game."
Video: Pastrnak Speaks With Media After Practice in Edmonton
Draisaitl leads the entire NHL with 95 points in 59 games. His 61 assists also lead the league, and his 34 goals ranking fourth. Behind Draisaitl, Connor McDavid's 81 points rank him 4th in the league, just behind Pastrnak and Colorado's Nathan MacKinnon.
The Oilers will be without McDavid, currently out the lineup with a leg injury.
"You're always trying to game-plan for him, he's such a dynamic player," said Cassidy. "But at the end of the day after that, you have a team that puts some young guys in. We've been through this before, we watched Columbus beat us with younger guys. They just checked really well, kept the game simple and then relied on some of the guys that were in their lineup to make their plays and get goaltending and special teams. Edmonton has enough of all those elements; they've got good special teams, their goaltenders are solid, their first line will score.
"At the end of the day to me, that's what we're up against. We've got to make sure that we're willing to hang in there for the full sixty, that's what's made us a good team to check well. I suspect that will be their strategy without those guys and we'll have to be ready for it and not assume anything just because a few guys are missing."
In net, Mikko Koskinen and Mike Smith have split the goaltending duties this season. Koskinen slightly edges out Smith statistcally with a 2.85 GAA and a .911 save percentage in 29 contests.