EDMONTON, AB - The Oilers were disappointed that they couldn’t end their recent road trip on a high note. Instead, they fell 3-0 to Toronto.
“It’s just disappointing,” said Justin Schultz. “We could have had a good end to the road trip and been .500 on the trip. Instead, we had a bad effort and didn’t get a win there but we can bounce back tonight.”
“We had a chance to finish .500, which would have obviously been something to look forward to,” said Jordan Eberle. “We let that game get away from us.”
The Oilers can’t hang their heads. They have a tough task ahead of them as they begin a five-game homestand with a game against the Boston Bruins tonight.
“We have a chance to redeem ourselves tonight against a good team,” said Eberle. “We get a win today and we can turn everything around, just like that. That’s how it works.”
The Bruins have won five games in a row and are 13-8-1 on the season. A lot of their success comes down to special teams. The Bruins power play, despite having only two goals in their last four games (both against the Rangers on Friday), is the best in the league at 32.4%. Their penalty kill is 26th on the season (75.3%), however, they are 15 of 16 on the kill in their last five games.
“Good team. A real good team,” said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan. “They’ve got the size and the strength, once again, like they always do. You look at their special teams and say ‘wow, the power play,’ but the penalty kill has been very good over the last six games so they’re climbing there as well. They’re a very good team. They’re a very good challenge for us physically. We’ll get tested in that area again tonight and we’ll see how we fare.”
The Oilers will be without Benoit Pouliot (lower body) tonight and Mark Letestu is a game-time decision. The onus is on the Oilers top six to generate more scoring and the team’s second line had a tough road trip from that standpoint.
“When you look at (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins) on the road trip and the production of that line, it wasn’t where it needed to be,” said McLellan. “That was a five-game segment and we were shutout in a couple games, so obviously the rest of the group didn’t do their thing on those nights offensively as well. -8, I think Nuge and Ebs were. A couple of them were empty-netters. That also comes into play. I think I created that storm after the (Toronto) game probably by some of my comments.”
After the loss to Toronto, McLellan was verbally upset with the production of individuals.
“I’m not happy with my game right now,” said Eberle. “I’d like to be putting the puck in the net a lot more. The bottom line is you can play as well as you think you can but you’ve got to put the puck in the net. I thought I created a lot more the last game, but at the end of the day you’ve got to score goals. We can’t just count on Taylor’s line to carry us. We need to chip in and score. I understand that. It’s part of the game.”
When trying to jumpstart offence in individual players, McLellan says you draw upon past successes. That can be said for Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
“We look at where he’s accomplished things and what he’s done in the past. We overlap it with what’s gone on in the present, and we look at differences. We look at how we’re deploying him, who he’s playing with, where he’s getting his shots, how many opportunities is he getting on second tap-ins and that type of stuff.”
The hope is that all of the offensive weapons who haven’t contributed much on the score sheet lately will snap out of it, create and pounce on second-chance opportunities. The Bruins game tonight is their first crack at it coming off the road trip.
-- Chris Wescott, edmontonoilers.com
BRUINS (13-8-1) at OILERS (8-15-2)
TV: NESN, SN1
Season series: The Boston Bruins and Edmonton Oilers split two games last season, with each winning at home. Defenseman Dougie Hamilton led the Bruins with a goal and five points. Forwards Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Teddy Purcell and Nail Yakupov led the Oilers with a goal and an assist each.
Bruins team scope: Forward Landon Ferraro moved up from the fourth line to center Ryan Spooner and Jimmy Hayes on the third line Tuesday for the second straight practice. Brett Connolly has practiced with the fourth line. Defenseman Kevan Miller, who has missed the past five games with a concussion, continued his recovery with another practice; he took line rushes with Joe Morrow on the fourth pair. The Bruins practiced at Rexall Place in preparation for three games in four nights; they have won a season-best five games in a row. "We're taking this road trip as something separate," Connolly told the Bruins website. 'We've won five in a row and we're feeling pretty good about ourselves. But I think if you ask some of the guys, we probably haven't played that well for five wins. But we'll take it."
Oilers team scope: Edmonton did not skate Tuesday. The Oilers returned home from a season-long five-game road trip; they went 1-3-1 and were shut out in the first and last games by the Washington Capitals and Toronto Maple Leafs. The Oilers scored six goals on the trip. Coach Todd McLellan was not pleased with the 3-0 loss in Toronto on Monday. "When I look at this trip as a whole, we had some key, key people really underperform on the trip," McLellan told the Oilers website. "Significant minus numbers, not hitting the score sheet. It can't always be [Taylor Hall and Leon Draisaitl] that provides that." Forward Jordan Eberle was pointless, and Nugent-Hopkins had two assists; they each were minus-8. Forward Connor McDavid (collarbone), forward Rob Klinkhammer (undisclosed) and Yakupov (ankle) are out.