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PRE-GAME REPORT: Oilers at Bruins

The Oilers visit the Boston Bruins in a matinee game on Saturday

by Paul Gazzola / EdmontonOilers.com

The Oilers visit the Boston Bruins for a matinee matchup Saturday at TD Garden.

You can watch the game on Sportsnet or listen on 630 CHED, including the Oilers Radio Network.

Video: OILERS TODAY | Pre-Game at BOS 01.03.20

INSIDE THE OILERS

News and notes from Friday's Oilers practice at Agganis Arena.

>> READ MORE IN THE INSIDE THE OILERS BLOG

PRE-GAME REPORT

BOSTON, MA - The Dynamic Duo, meet…

Boston's dynamic duo.

While the Oilers offensive pulse beats by the output of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, Boston's charge is led by David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand. The four skaters rank in the top five of National Hockey League scoring and have combined for a total of 249 points in the 2019-20 season.

So, offence may be served for lunch on Saturday. However, that's not a talking point in the Oilers cafeteria.

"I don't really care, to be honest, about that," forward Zack Kassian said after practice on Friday.

"We're about winning a hockey game. We have some offensive threats, they have some offensive threats. If you look around the League, every team has that. There's so much talent in this League that on any given night if you're not ready to work against talent, they're going to make you pay."

Instead, the Orange & Blue are focused on administering a strong team effort and hope that will push them past the big, bad Bruins.

"We seem to put our best foot forward when we play tough opponents. We've proven that this year," said Kassian.

"I expect nothing less."

ROUNDING OUT THE OFFENCE

While Marchand and Pastrnak assemble for their offence, Edmonton's Dynamic Duo has been divided.

Since the Oilers recalled forward Kailer Yamamoto - who has two points in two NHL games this year and was named an American Hockey League All-Star on Friday - the club has split McDavid and Draisaitl.

The Oilers top line features McDavid in the middle of Kassian and James Neal. Draisaitl, meanwhile, will play middleman with Yamamoto and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. 

The balanced assault has been noticeable in the past two outings and a lot of credit goes to the recalled Yamamoto, who's been parachuted in to provide a new complexion.

"That's no secret," said Kassian. "Yammer came up and he's done a great job. If you look at the good teams, they're not one-line teams. They're not two-line teams. They're four-line teams. There's no ifs ands or buts about that.

"You look at those teams that are playing late in April and late in the playoffs, they're deep. They have different guys step up at different times and we're going to need that going forward if we're going to get into the playoffs."

Video: RAW | Kassian

PLAYING THE RIGHT WAY

Oilers Head Coach Dave Tippett was explicitly critical of his team after Thursday's OT defeat to Buffalo.

The bench boss didn't like how his squad protected the blue paint and was also vocal of the turnovers they gave up, which ended up seeing the Orange & Blue have their 2-0 lead overturned.

On Friday, Tippett emphasized the need to continue pushing even when owning the score.

"You got to keep doing things well that have got you the lead," he started. 

"There's no mindset of backing off but it's more the mindset to sustain the pressure and keep doing things that you were doing. That's hard. You got to keep going hard all the time. You can't take your foot off the gas."

That will have to be the mantra if the Oilers want to pluck a W from The Garden.

"That's a good Bruins team," Kassian said. "They play the right way all over the ice. It's going to be important for us to play the right way against them if we're going to give ourselves a chance to win."

LINEUP NOTES

Coach Tippett confirmed that Mike Smith would start in goal on Saturday. The bench boss also alluded to the Dmen, saying Caleb Jones could replace William Lagesson but both skaters will take warmups.

Lines at Friday's practice appeared to be:

Neal - McDavid - Kassian
Nugent-Hopkins - Draisaitl - Yamamoto
Khaira - Sheahan - Archibald
Nygard - Haas - Chiasson

-- Paul Gazzola, EdmontonOilers.com

Video: RAW | Tippett

PREVIEW

OILERS (21-17-5) vs. BRUINS (24-7-11)

TV: 11:00 a.m. MT; Televised on Sportsnet

Head-to-Head:

Tonight's match is the first of two meetings between the Oilers and Bruins in the 2019-20 season.

The two sides will get acquainted on Saturday then reconvene at Rogers Place on Feb. 19.

Last season, Boston and Edmonton split the season series. The Bruins defeated the Oilers 4-1 and Edmonton irked out a 3-2 overtime win.

Connor McDavid collected one goal and two assists in two games vs. Boston. On the other side, Matt Grzelcyk led all Bruins offensively with three helpers.

McDavid has 10 points (1G, 9A) in six career dates with the B's.

Oilers team scope:

The Oilers began their current five-game visitor swing by obtaining a lone point against the Buffalo Sabres in a 3-2 overtime loss.

Edmonton jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period but couldn't maintain it, as the Sabres never relented and eventually escaped with the win.

"When we can execute - and sometimes, that's just a simple play of getting it in deep or doing the right thing - we can push the game along… We had some competing stuff in front of our net that cost us last night and some execution (issues)," Tippett said of his club's shortcomings.

Edmonton is 3-6-1 in their last 10 games, idling in the second Western Conference wild card spot.

Bruins team scope:

The Bruins are coming off consecutive losses, first dropping a 3-2 shootout decision to the New Jersey Devils then getting edged 2-1 against the Columbus Blue Jackets in OT.

Despite losing two straight, Boston is tied with the Washington Capitals for first in the National Hockey League with 59 points (prior to Friday's NHL action). The club is 4-1-5 in their last 10 games and 14-1-9 at home.

Jaroslav Halak, who is expected to get the nod in net, is 9-3-5 this season with a 2.20 GAA and .930 S%.

By the Numbers:

The Oilers are 9-0-0 this season when scoring multiple power-play goals in a game, while the Bruins are 7-0-1 when doing the same. ... Edmonton and Boston are the only two teams in the League to be in the top five on both special teams. ... The Oilers have been outscored 50-37 for a minus-13 rating in the 3rd period, while the Bruins are plus-17 in the final frame (54-37). ... EDM is 11-6-2 vs. Eastern Conference competition in '19-20. ... The Oilers are 7-2-0 in their last nine meetings with the Bruins.

Injury Report:

OILERS - Matt Benning (concussion) is on IR.

BRUINS - Kevan Miller (knee) is on IR; Anton Blidh (shoulder) is on IR; Connor Clifton (upper body) is on IR.

-- Paul Gazzola, EdmontonOilers.com

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