Man it doesn’t feel like half the hockey regular season is over but sadly it is. The Bruins are officially at the halfway point in their 2016-2017 campaign as they’re set to take on Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers at TD Garden in game 41 of 82. Watch the 1st of 2 meetings between these two teams as the puck drops at 7 PM EST on NESN.
These aren’t your fathers Oilers who won multiple Stanley cups in the 80’s but they’re on the right track for success. Edmonton currently ranks 3rd in the Pacific division with a record of 19-13-7 and 45 points. The Oilers are on their 2nd game of a 4 game trip to the east. The team is on a 2 game losing streak losing to two red-hot hockey clubs; the Vancouver Canucks and Columbus Blue Jackets.
Edmonton ranks in the top 10 in powerplay percentage coming in at #8 at 21.1%. Not shocking really given the amount of young talent that is on this team. Young German forward Leon Draisaitl, and superstar Connor McDavid have stood out for most of the year. McDavid is having an MVP season leading the NHL in points with Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin with 43. Draisaitl had a hell of a December with 7 goals, 9 assists and 16 points in 14 games.
Boston is coming off a 3-0 loss to a lowly New Jersey Devils team. Boston has accumulated only 7 points out of 18 against the following teams: Carolina Hurricanes, Colorado Avalanche, New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils, Toronto Maple Leafs.
With the Devils in the rear view mirror, Boston will look to have a different fate against an Oilers team that’s been hot and cold. The Bruins will have to adjust to Edmonton’s speed if they want to have any chance of winning this game. It would be pretty safe to say that the B’s are in dire need of 2 points as they’ve played the most games in the league thus far.
The Bruins once again need more out of their powerplay unit as its ranked 27th in the NHL only at 14%. If there was one thing the Bruins did well on Monday night against New Jersey is the penalty kill. The kill went 6 for 6 and improved their league ranking to 2nd in the NHL only behind the Carolina Hurricanes.
If it weren’t for this player, a guy named McDavid would be in my player spotlight. Instead my player spotlight is Milan Lucic and for good reason. Lucic had a great 8-year tenure filled with some of the best moment in recent history. He helped the Bruins win a Stanley Cup and was an integral part of that run. When Lucic got traded to LA last season and made his formal return against the Bruins, he was serenaded with cheers from the home crowd. He scored a goal late in the game and his team went onto to win 9-2. Lucic then came out for a victory lap after the game was over to much of the fans appreciation. Milan signed with the Oilers in the 2016 offseason for 7 years and 42 million dollars. Lucic is having a good season for the team out west with 10 goals, 16 assists and 26 points. He’s been on the line with McDavid for much of the year nut has not stuck around on his line as of late. He’s still one of the very few best power forwards in the game and is a game changer when he flips that switch.
Let’s take a closer look at Torey Krug. Krug only has 1 goal all season while contributing 20 assists and 21 points, which ranks most among Bruins defenseman by a wide margin. The young 25 year old had a rough start to the season not only scoring no points in his first 9 games, but constantly turning over the puck, letting odd man rushes take place and blowing coverage in his own zone. Krug has finally been catching fire lately with 7 points in his last 6 games. The Bruins are going to need him to keep it going cause right now cause he’s the only real threat offensively on their blue line.
Brad Marchand—Patrice Bergeron—David Pastrnak
Ryan Spooner—David Krejci—Frank Vatrano
Tim Schaller—Austin Czarnik—Jimmy Hayes
Anton Blidh/Noel Acciari —Dominic Moore—Riley Nash
Zdeno Chara—Brandon Carlo
Torey Krug—Adam McQuaid
Kevan Miller—Colin Miller
Patrick Maroon—Connor McDavid—Leon Draisaitl
Milan Lucic—Ryan Nugent-Hopkins—Zack Kassian
Benoit Pouliot—Drake Caggiula—Jordan Eberle
Anton Lander—Mark Letestu—Jesse Puljujarvi
Oscar Klefbom— Adam Larsson
Andrej Sekera—Kris Russell
Eric Gryba/Jordan Oesterle—Matthew Benning
Former Bruins draft pick in 2012 Matt Benning (son of former Bruins assistant GM Jim Benning) signed with the Edmonton Oilers over the offseason. The defenseman also played for the Northeastern Huskies, A lot of Boston ties for the young 22 year old rookie as his father Jim Benning is the GM for the Vancouver Canucks. Jim Benning was the assistant GM for the Bruins for 8 years before taking the Cnucks job.…. The Bruins have placed Anton Khudobin on waivers and the Bruins recalled Goaltender Zane McIntyre….. Claude Julien also gave an update on David Backes clearing him for practice and full contact but is unlikely for Thursday night’s game…. On Wednesday the hockey world found out the Milt Schmidt passed away at the age of 98. The Bruins will pay tribute to him before the game and have embedded Schmidt’s number on the ice for tonight’s game.
R.I.P Milt Schmidt. You will be forever missed.