The Edmonton Oilers open a crucial seven-game road trip tonight against the Boston Bruins. Game time tonight is 5:00 p.m. MST and it can be seen on Rogers Sportsnet West.
Edmonton is currently six points out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference but also six points away from top spot in the Northwest Division by virtue of a three-way tie for first between Vancouver, Minnesota and Calgary.
The Oilers have only lost two of their last seven games with both losses coming against the Canucks.
Boston, currently nine points out of a playoff spot with three teams standing between them and eighth-place Carolina, made a big trade over the weekend. The Bruins sent defenceman Brad Stuart and forward Wayne Primeau along with a conditional pick to the Calgary Flames in exchange for defenceman Andrew Ference and forward Chuck Kobasew.
After losing five straight games in late January, the Bruins have won three of their last four games. All three wins have come in either overtime or a shootout.
OILERS TO WATCH: With nine goals in 18 road games, Ryan Smyth
leads the Oilers in that category... Joffrey Lupul has six of his 15 goals away from home but only one assist in 25 games total... From the obscure stats file, Petr Sykora has picked up five goals and seven points in nine games that have been held on a Tuesday this season. Raffi Torres has six points on Tuesday nights... So far this month, Horcoff and Hemsky are the Oilers' leading scorers with six points each in five games. Sykora is third with five points - all assists.
BRUINS TO WATCH: Former Oilers farmhand Tim Thomas is the clear number-one netminder with Boston this season. He has played in 45 games and has picked up 22 of the team's 25 wins... Off-season free-agent acquisition Marc Savard leads the Bruins with 68 points, 16 more than Patrice Bergeron... Glen Murray is the team's goal scoring leader with 26 goals... Andrew Ference makes his debut as a Bruin tonight, wearing number 21. He had two goals and 10 assists for 12 points in 54 games with Calgary this season.
ROSTER UPDATES: Edmonton - Ethan Moreau (shoulder) is out. Jarret Stoll (concussion) is out. Fernando Pisani (concussion) is doubtful. Daniel Tjarnqvist (inflamed pubic bone) is doubtful. Boston - Chuck Kobasew (elbow) is out. Glen Murray (groin strain) is day-to-day.
FAST FACTS: Boston has only one regulation win in the 2007 calendar year and that came on January 6 - a 4-3 win over Philadelphia. The Bruins have won four shootout games and one overtime game to go with 11 losses... Aside from in the Stanley Cup Finals on two separate occasions, historically the Oilers have never had a lot of success in Boston. The Bruins have an all-time record of 21-6-3 versus Edmonton in games played at Boston... The Bruins have won each of the last five meetings, with Edmonton's last victory a 6-1 win at Rexall Place on October 17, 2000. The Oilers last won in Boston on November 7, 1996 by a score of 6-0.