CAMBRIDGE, MA - The Oilers are hoping to continue their three-game winning streak when they take on the Bruins in Boston tomorrow afternoon. The team knows this is no small task.
“We know they’re a good, effective team,” said Oilers forward Ryan Smyth. They’ve got some key players… We’ve got to make sure we’re mentally focused about our game, what we can do and what we’ve done this last little bit.”
The Bruins are coming off a loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night, which snapped a four-game win streak.
The Oilers have won three straight and are coming off of a 3-0 victory over San Jose, in which goaltender Ben Scrivens broke a NHL record with 59 saves. While Scrivens was fantastic, the rest of the team could have been better and it has kept their head coach up at night with thoughts on whether or not to change the lineup.
“It is difficult, but it’s the nature of the game,” Head Coach Dallas Eakins said. “I like to stick with winning lineups but that last game to me, I’m still torn on it. Yeah, we got the win but we did not play well at all and if we need to make changes, we’ll make them.”
Oilers Captain Andrew Ference will make his first return visit to Boston in an Oilers uniform. Prior to signing with Edmonton in the off-season, Ference played for the Bruins for the previous seven seasons.
“For me, it’s been nice,” Ference said. “It’s obviously a place where I’ve spent a lot of time. My family grew up here so the kids came back for this trip and they’re actually back in their old schools today with all their old buddies. It’s pretty cool. (I have) a lot of roots here.”
For Ference, the potential nervousness or weirdness of playing against his former teammates has been stifled much by the fact that the Oilers have already played the Bruins once this season.
“It’s kind of nice that we already played them in Edmonton so it’s not too weird playing against them. But it’s definitely a different feeling, being in the town and in the visiting room. I’m sure tomorrow will be a little odd but I’m excited. It’s just fun to be back around familiar people and a familiar town that I really love…”
Ference has missed the last three games with a head injury, but he is expected to make his return on Saturday in Boston.
“I did my testing in Edmonton. I got cleared for that so I’m good to go.”
Eakins confirmed that Ference would most likely play.
“If that’s coming from Andrew, that he’s ready to play, obviously, he will go back in,” Eakins said. “Anytime a player like that is ready to go, especially being your captain, he’ll be inserted immediately.”
THE NEW GUY
The Oilers made their eighth trade of the season on Thursday morning by sending Cameron Abney and Teemu Hartikainen to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for defenceman Mark Fraser.
“It was a little surprising and shocking and definitely excitement,” Fraser said. “I was very fortunate to play in a market like Toronto and a Canadian market. I’m just happy that I get to stay in Canada and play for another organization that has incredibly passionate fans. Obviously it’s a team with a coach that I’ve played with before and have had success with and those few (former) teammates as well.”
Fraser will most likely play against the Bruins on Saturday, pending a discussion with Eakins.
“That’s the plan,” the Oilers bench boss said. “I told him we’d touch base again tonight when he gets in. I’ve got to make sure he’s in the right mindset, but it sounded on the phone like he wanted to play, that he was ready to play and if those are the cases, then he will go in.”
Big story: Setting an NHL record should probably entitle you to the next start in goal, so the Bruins can't be surprised if they're staring down Ben Scrivens at the other end after the Oilers netminder made 59 saves in a 3-0 win Wednesday against the San Jose Sharks to extend Edmonton's win streak to three games. The previous high for saves in a shutout had been 54 by the Phoenix Coyotes' Mike Smith.
Oilers: Dallas Eakins might want to start tweeting out his starting goalie more often. The Edmonton coach used his Twitter account to announce Thursday morning Scrivens would make his fourth start since being acquired from the Los Angeles Kings. Scrivens has now stopped 118 of 121 shots (.975 save percentage) in the past three.
This is the start of a four-game road trip leading into the Olympic break for the Oilers, who shoot for their longest win streak since taking five in a row from March 26-April 3, 2013. New defenseman Mark Fraser, acquired Friday from the Toronto Maple Leafs, is likely to be in the lineup. Eakins said Fraser is "highly competitive and has a growl to him."
"It would be nice to be in a playoff spot or be fighting for one going into the trip," forward Taylor Hall said in the Edmonton Sun. "But we're in the situation we're in, we put ourselves in this spot, so we have to have as much fun as we can, knocking off teams and getting wins."
Bruins: This will be the second Saturday matinee in as many weeks for Boston, which throttled the Philadelphia Flyers 6-1 in the previous one to start a stretch of three consecutive games in which they put half a dozen goals on the board.
The Bruins' streak of four straight wins overall was snapped Thursday, however, by their Original Six rival the Montreal Canadiens. Tuukka Rask got pulled midway through the second period and a first-period goal by Dougie Hamilton was the only offensive highlight as they missed a chance to extend their four-point lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Atlantic Division.
"We thought we were ready, but obviously we weren't," forward David Krejci said. "It is what it is. We lost. We didn't like the way that we lost, but we've got to move on, forget about this game, and try to get ready for Saturday."
Who's hot: Oilers forward Jordan Eberle has five goals and three assists in his past seven games. Hall has one goal and eight assists during a six-game point streak. … Bruins forwards Loui Eriksson and Carl Soderberg assisted on Hamilton's goal against the Canadiens, giving them three-game point streaks (one goal, two assists apiece).
Injury report: Edmonton forward Matt Hendricks (head) left the game Thursday after a first-period fight and did not return. Hendricks said it was a precautionary move and he hopes to play Saturday. Defenseman Andrew Ference (head) has missed the past three games but will return against his former team if he's medically cleared. Forward Ales Hemsky (foot), who has missed the past seven, could return during the road trip. … Boston defenseman Adam McQuaid (lower body) has missed the past five games.