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Oilers, Bruins face off in clash of star power

McDavid, Draisaitl of Edmonton, Pastrnak, Marchand of Boston four of NHL's top five scorers

by Amalie Benjamin @AmalieBenjamin / Staff Writer

BOSTON -- While he's coaching, Bruce Cassidy doesn't often get a chance to appreciate the artistry on the ice, from his team or from the opponent. That comes the next day, when the Boston Bruins coach sits down to watch the tape, to see what he missed and what his team could have done better, to actually watch the hockey that was played. 

That means that on Sunday, Cassidy could be in for some fun. Or not. 

Four of the top five scorers in the NHL -- Connor McDavid (64 points), Leon Draisaitl (63), David Pastrnak (60), and Brad Marchand (59) -- will take the ice on Saturday at TD Garden (1 p.m. ET; ESPN+, SN, NESN, NHL.TV) when the Bruins and Edmonton Oilers play in what could be an offensive spectacular. 

Only Nathan MacKinnon (62) of the Colorado Avalanche will watch from afar, as a quartet of players all on target to surpass 100 points this season get set to face off. 

"I'll watch it the next day, on video," Cassidy said. "I always go back. That'll be probably more entertaining than in-game. You're sitting there trying to figure out how to keep them off the scoresheet, those guys. So that'll be the next day."

Video: ANA@BOS: Pastrnak scores four goals against Ducks

He's hoping he'll get to enjoy it. Though, with McDavid (22 goals, 42 assists) and Draisaitl (23 goals, 40 assists) on the other side, that's far from a guarantee. It's something that Oilers president Bob Nicholson has gotten to watch up close this season, as McDavid continues to cement his place as the best player in the world, as Draisaitl rises up to meet him, as they light up the scoreboard together.

"It's great," Nicholson said. "I sit back and look at it now and having top players like this play in a game like this, it makes it that much more special.

"I can only speak to watching Leon and Connor, but it's been special. Connor is a generational player and Leon has come a long way. They both have things to talk about. They both have things to work on. But they're spectacular, entertaining. … Those Bruins guys, well, looking forward to Saturday."

Video: COL@EDM: McDavid propels Oilers with six-point game

So is everyone else. 

This season has been a revelation for Pastrnak (30 goals, 30 assists), a continuation of an upward trajectory for Draisaitl, and a confirmation for Marchand (20 goals, 39 assists) and McDavid, as two of the best players in the game. In a season in which 22 players who have played at least 35 games are averaging more than a point per game, these four are - along with MacKinnon -- the best of the best.

"I think the League for the last couple years is looking to create offense and finding a way to create goals, and I think they've been doing a good job with that," McDavid said. "Obviously it's still tough to produce and score goals, but I think offense is up and you're seeing that in guys' numbers."

Not that he's hoping for the kind of fun, offensive-minded game that everyone else might be. Asked about it after the Oilers practiced at Boston University on Friday, McDavid was quick to correct.

"I think it'll be more of a defensive game," he said, acknowledging that that's where his focus is currently. "If the offense comes, it comes."

Video: NYR@EDM: Draisaitl shovels puck home on power play

But where is the fun in that? 

Because with McDavid, Draisaitl, Pastrnak and Marchand -- who missed practice on Friday with flu-like symptoms but is expected to play -- on the ice at the same time, most people are looking for the dekes and passes, the runs through defenders and goals of the year candidates. Which they just might get. 

"Boston's a really good team," McDavid said. "They've got some really good players that are playing well. They've been playing well for a long time. That [Patrice] Bergeron line with Pastrnak and Marchand is one of the best lines in hockey, if not the best line in hockey. So it's no surprise to see them up there in the scoring list."

Not that anyone is surprised about McDavid, either. 

"He's a challenge every night," Cassidy said. "He plays in all situations. I don't think you ever shut him down, but if you can contain him, minimize the damage, obviously keep the puck out of his hands as much as possible -- it's easier said than done."

That's something that both sides could say. It's something that both sides will be focused on, keeping the puck away from the most dangerous players on the opposing team, keeping the puck on the stick of those most dangerous players on their team.

Video: BOS@MTL: Marchand pots backhander off of turnover

Because it isn't all highlight-reel goals and slick passes on the minds of the Bruins and Oilers. Both teams have seen dips in their play of late, as the Bruins have shown a puzzling inability to finish in overtime and shootouts. Boston has five extra-time losses in their last eight games and a 4-4-6 record in their last 14, despite being second in the NHL with 59 points, two behind the Washington Capitals. 

The Oilers, meanwhile, have been trending downward since the end of November, with a 5-10-2 record since Nov. 27, including an overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday. 

So both teams could be out for blood. Or, at least, points. 

And, really, they'll take them any way they can get them, with an offensive explosion or a 1-0 win or anything in between. 

"Obviously I'm sure for the fans it'll be entertaining," Draisaitl said. "I don't necessarily think us four and the two teams see it that way. It's the Oilers against the Bruins. As a team, that's the way you have to look at it. We have to find a way to stop them."

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