BOSTON, MA - The Edmonton Oilers take on the Boston Bruins tonight at the TD Garden looking to put an end to a losing streak in Boston which dates back to November 7, 1996 and also a three-game skid which has come on the heels of a four-game winning streak.
The Oilers will once again be without Taylor Hall and Andrew Ference but the Bruins aren't a picture of health, either. They are missing Zdeno Chara and potentially David Krejci among others.
"We're not going to feel sorry for them. We're missing our best player and our captain," said Eakins. "There's no tears over here for the Boston Bruins. They're going to be extremely touched. This is a team that is well coached. They've got grit, they've got experience and they've won a lot of hockey over the years. We know this is going to be a terribly hard night."
Two players will be making their Oilers debut tonight. Winger Iiro Pakarinen plays his first NHL game on a line with David Perron and Mark Arcobello. Keith Aulie will be paired up on the blueline with Jeff Petry.
Ben Scrivens gets the start in goal for the Oilers, his first start since last Saturday against the Canucks (a 3-2 loss).
Pakarinen, 23, has gotten off to an excellent start with five goals and eight points in seven games but it’s really his work ethic that Eakins is excited about injecting into his lineup.
"He's really come to work every day in practice. His work ethic has been at a level 10,” said Eakins. “He brings some grit and can also finish. It's not like he's a 19-year-old kid.”
Pakarinen remarked that he was looking forward to the game.
"I'm a little bit nervous and of course so excited right now," he said. "Two feelings right now."
The head coach reiterated the need for more players to step up their game with the absence of Taylor Hall and Andrew Ference.
“We need everybody to bring it up. Even five percent will help us greatly.”
Keith Aulie will be playing his first game as an Oiler tonight.
“It’s exciting,” said Aulie. “You work hard and try to make sure you get better every day and do the right things. The opportunity comes and now it’s up to me to do my job and that’s my 100% focus, to do what I can do.”
Being 6’6”, Aulie brings a size and physical element to the Edmonton blueline.
“They’re a physical team. They like to play the body. For myself, that’s the type of game I want to play too. I think it’s a good matchup in that sense. I like to go out and be physical.”
-- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com
OILERS (4-7-1) at BRUINS (8-6-0)
TV: SN360, TVA2, NESN
Season series: The Boston Bruins and Edmonton Oilers are playing for the first time this season. The Bruins won both games against the Oilers last season. outscoring them 8-2. Oilers forward David Perron scored both Edmonton goals. Among Bruins who still with the team, David Krejci led the way with one goal and two assists. Edmonton has not won in Boston since Nov. 7, 1996. The Bruins have eight wins and there was one tie in that span.
Oilers team scope: The road hasn't been kind to the Oilers this season. They started their five-game road trip Tuesday with a 4-1 loss against the Philadelphia Flyers, which dropped Edmonton to 0-3-1 on the road this season. The Flyers game marked the return of goaltender Viktor Fasth, who allowed four goals on 25 shots in his first game since Oct. 14 because of a groin injury. With a goal against the Flyers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has at least one point in six of the past seven games. And they'll need him to keep producing while leading scorer Taylor Hall is out because of a knee injury. The Oilers also are missing their top defenseman, Andrew Ference. The former Bruins defenseman is serving a three-game suspension.
Bruins team scope: The Bruins could have top-line center David Krejci in the lineup Thursday. Krejci skated Wednesday prior to the start of practice. Krejci has missed the past two games with an undisclosed injury, but Bruins coach Claude Julien said seeing Krejci on the ice was progress. "He skated [Wednesday]," Julien said, according to the Bruins website. "That's progress to me. So that's a good sign, to see him out there, and he felt pretty good." Julien said Krejci would be monitored for the rest of Wednesday and into Thursday morning before any determination is made on his playing status. "If he's 100 percent I don't want him watching [Thursday]," Julien said. The Bruins have won three in a row, with forward Brad Marchand carrying the offense. He has four goals, including two in overtime, in the past three games.