EDMONTON, AB - The Boston Bruins enter Rogers Place a day after ending the Calgary Flames' 10-game winning streak on Wednesday night. The Oilers, readying for the sixth contest of their eight-game home stand, seek to build off Tuesday's dominating 7-1 defeat of the Dallas Stars.
The Bruins have performed well under newly-appointed Head Coach Bruce Cassidy. The team is 12-3-0 with him at the helm.
"They're playing very good lately," said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan. "I think out of all the teams that we'll play on this home stand, they're perhaps playing the best or playing the most consistent hockey coming in. They penalty kill at a high level, (their) power play is exceptionally good over the last little bit and their separation between shots for and against in a game is quite wide when you compare it to other teams."
The Bruins are riding a four-game win streak, outscoring their opponents 19-7.
"They do have some strong players, physically strong along the boards, they have some quick players and they have a nice mix," said McLellan. "Our mix is going to have to be ready to play against their mix."
THE BEST PEST
A major contributor to the Bruins' surge is forward Brad Marchand. The 28-year-old leads the National Hockey League in goals with 36 and is in a three-way tie for the scoring lead with Patrick Kane and Oilers Captain Connor McDavid. All three players have 76 points this season.
"Marchand can play the game but he plays a hard game, he gets in your face and tries to frustrate guys," said Oilers forward Patrick Maroon, who netted his first career hat trick the last time the two teams met. "We shouldn't let that bother us, we just got to go out there and find a way to play our game."
Marchand has 26 goals in his past 29 games.
The goals may not come as easy on Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask - due to his 2.24 goals-against average and .914 save percentage - but the Oilers will try to continue getting to the net and scoring 'playoff-type' goals.
"Getting pucks deep, grinding down low, getting pucks to the net and trying to get to their goalie because you know their goalie has been really good," said Maroon.
The Oilers made a minor change to their roster, per the morning skate. Drake Caggiula is expected to slot in for Matt Hendricks on the fourth line. The rest of the lineup appears intact, meaning Anton Slepyshev will play the right side on the fourth line and Matt Benning will pair up with Darnell Nurse.
"We got our hands full tonight but they're playing on a back-to-back so we got to make sure we take advantage of that and make it as hard on them as possible," said Caggiula.
The lineup appears to be:
Maroon - McDavid - Draisaitl
Lucic - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle
Pouliot - Desharnais - Kassian
Caggiula - Letestu - Slepyshev
Klebom - Larsson
Sekera - Russell
Nurse - Benning
-- Paul Gazzola, edmontonoilers.com
OILERS (36-24-9) vs. BRUINS (38-26-6)
TV: 7:00 p.m. MDT; Televised on Sportsnet West
This game is the second and final meeting between the Oilers and Bruins this season and the lone game in Edmonton. The last time these teams met in Edmonton was on Dec. 2, 2015, when the Oilers defeated the Bruins 3-2 in a shootout. The last two games against Boston in Edmonton have gone to shootouts, with the Oilers winning both games.
The last time these teams met was on January 5th in Boston, when the Oilers defeated the Bruins by a score of 4-3. Patrick Maroon scored his first career hat trick in the win.
Oilers team scope:
The Oilers have 81 points and sit in the first wildcard spot in the Western Conference. They are four points ahead of the St. Louis Blues, who hold the second wildcard position and eight points up on the Los Angeles Kings, who are on the outside looking in.
Edmonton also sits only one point behind Calgary for third in the Pacific and three points behind Anaheim for second. The Oilers hold a game in hand on both teams which they will make up tonight.
Forward Zack Kassian played in his 300th career NHL game vs. Dallas on Mar. 14, and reached the milestone with a bang. Kassian had two assists, three hits and recorded a team season-high +4 plus-minus rating for the game, along with defenceman Darnell Nurse.
The native of Windsor, Ontario has now appeared in 101 games with Edmonton, posting 27 points (9G, 18A).
He has 19 points (6G, 13A) in 2016-17, his second best season total. In 2013-14, he had 29 points (14G, 15A). Kassian also ranks third on the Oilers with 161 hits.
He is now five points from reaching 100 career NHL points.
Bruins team scope:
Boston had won 13 straight games against the Oilers dating back to October 17, 2000 until Edmonton won 4-3 in a shootout on February 18, 2015. Since then, the Oilers have won three more times including the first time in regulation since that date in October 2000 this past January in that 4-3 win at Boston.
The Bruins have 82 points on the season, three points back of Ottawa for second place in the Atlantic Division.
Brad Marchand has been on fire for the Bruins with 11 goals in his last 11 games. Marchand leads the NHL with 36 goals and is tied with McDavid and Chicago's Patrick Kane in points with 76. The 76 points is a career high for Marchand while the 36 goals is one off his career mark of 37 which was set last season.
David Pastrnak is second on the team with 30 goals and 62 points on the season.