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Pregame Notebook vs. Edmonton

by Staff Writer / Boston Bruins – Tonight, after the Bruins defeated the NHL-leading Vancouver Canucks 3-1, yesterday, they will take on the last-place Edmonton Oilers. 

But despite the Oilers place on the bottom of the NHL rankings, the B’s are not taking them lightly.

“Whether you’re playing a team that’s at the top of the standings or the bottom of the standings we need to find a way to get the two points,” Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas said before yesterday’s game.

The Oilers come into tonight’s game with a 20-34-8 record and an 8-5-1 record against the Eastern Conference. 

With last night’s win the Bruins improved their over-all record to 35-19-7.  They now have a 5-7-2 record against the Western Conference with a 3-1-0 mark against the Northwest Division. 

Edmonton's "Other" Rookie
Minnesota Wild's John Madden, left, watches the puck along with Edmonton Oilers' Jordan Eberle during the first period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011, in St. Paul, Minn. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Taylor Hall isn’t the only Edmonton rookie making waves in the NHL, forward Jordan Eberle is right there beside him—literally.

Eberle, who was the Oliers first round draft pick (22nd overall) in 2008, skates on a line with Hall, the No. 1 overall draft pick in last years draft.

Although Hall may take up the majority of the spotlight, Eberle has quietly making his mark on the NHL.

With a 14-19-33 scoring line, Eberle is eighth in rookie scoring, eighth in rookie goals, and seventh in rookie assists. 

Getting some time on the penalty kill, Eberle is third among rookies in shorthanded goals, three goals shy of the Bruins’ Brad Marchand’s four short-handers. 

Eberle is also threat on the man-advantage recording five power play goals, good for eighth among rookies. 

On an Edmonton team that is in a rebuilding stage, the 20-year-old rookie has gotten the chance to play in important moments of games, and has come up big. 

Eberle has three game-winning goals this season, which puts him third among rookies. Teammate Hall, who is also among rookie leaders in multiple categories, has four game winners. 

Ference, Boychuk head home
Boston Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk, top, drops Florida Panthers center Marty Reasoner, bottom, to the ice during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Boston, Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2011.(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Edmonton natives Johnny Boychuk and Andrew Ference headed home today where they’ll look to play in front of family and friends as the Bruins take on the Oilers. 

“Yeah I haven’t been there to play a game so it’s going to be nice to get back home, see people in the stands that I’ve known all my life,” Boychuk said. 

“I grew up right around the coliseum where I guess they practice now, so there will be a lot of people there too.”

While Boychuk expects around 15 members of his friends and family to be at the game, Ference is expecting between 20 and 30. 

“Never really know because there’s always more cousins that show up kind of last there are always a lot of people, so it’s good,” he said.

Despite having family and friends in the stands, Ference says his focus remains on the game and picking up two points. 

“During the actually game, not really, you just kind of play the game,” Ference said when asked if it’s extra special playing in his hometown.

“Once the clock starts it’s kind of just a game.”

Unfortunately, Ference had to leave Saturday's game with a lower body injury. There was no immediate update after the game by the Bruins.

Player Profile: Zdeno Chara
After an offensive breakout in the middle of the season, Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara has quietly remained a force on the Boston blueline. 

While maintaining his solid defensive play with a plus-20 rating, Chara has also contributed a 10-21-31 scoring line. 

Known among the NHL as the man with the hardest slap-shot—Chara holds the hardest shot record with a 105.4 MPH blast—the B’s All-Star uses his long reach and 6-foot-9 height to keep forwards on their heels. 

Now in his fifth season with Boston, Chara averages 25:50 of ice time per game and has manned the Bruins power play throughout the season. 

In 907 career NHL games, Chara has a 121-273-394 scoring line. He also has 1,364 penalty minutes.

As a physical defenseman, Chara controls his 255-pound frame, as a responsible player. Not only big, “Big Zee” is also a smooth skater, known for pinching and getting in on the forecheck when the Bruins pressure offensively. 

A continually reliable defenseman, Chara has a career rating of plus-103.  

---Hannah Becker
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