Edmonton Oilers at Boston Bruins
5 p.m. TD Bank Garden. SportsNet, 630 CHED.
1. Stopping No. 1 line in NHL
The Bruins line of Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak has 18 points in the first three Boston games, including six goals. Marchand has turned into Mr. Playmaker with seven assists. Like the Oilers with Connor McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Ty Rattie, this Bruins line is better production-wise than anybody else. Marchand also has found time to get 19 penalty minutes in his three games, so he hasn’t lost that part of his game.
2. Leon outplays Krejci
If the first lines of both clubs equalize each other, then it befits Leon Draisaitl to do more on the Oilers’ second line than Boston’s David Krejci, whose career has been in hibernation. He is nowhere near as dynamic as he used to be but Draisaitl, even if he had a goal and an assist against New Jersey, has had an indifferent camp and first game. He has to drive his own line to take the heat off McDavid, and show why he’s one of the top dozen centres in the league.
3. Get to Bruins goaltender Rask
Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask has shown a few cracks in his game the last year and early this season. He has given up eight goals in 87 shots in his two starts, one against Washington and one against Ottawa. He needed former backup Anton Khudobin to prop him up last year and his work in the playoffs wasn’t good (.903 save percentage and 2.88 average in 12 games, going 5-7).
4. Bounce back from Talbot
Oilers goalie Cam Talbot didn’t have a strong start in Sweden against the Devils with two second-period goals he would like back, which flew against his strong pre-season work when he was a solid A. He has had success against the Bruins in his career, going 4-1.
5. Somebody other than Connor, please
The fourth line was on for two goals against in Sweden and didn’t get anything done offensively (no shots) but the third was just as troublesome. Ryan Strome had a tough night (three faceoff wins in 10 attempts, and one shot) and Jujhar Khaira played only 10 minutes and didn’t get a shot, The Oilers really need Strome to match up against David Backes, Boston’s bigger third-line centre.
Connor McDavid vs Patrice Bergeron
The matchup every game is McDavid against somebody but McDavid should have his hands full with the four-time Selke award winner as the best two-way forward in the game. If Bergeron wins one more Selke he’ll be the all-time best at that and is on his way to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Bergeron isn’t aggravating like Ryan Kesler. He plays between the whistles, and he has considerably more offence to his game than Kesler. In three games this season, Bergeron has four goals.
Oilers: PP- 1-4, 25 per cent, 12th. PK-1-2, 50 per cent, 31st.
Bruins. PP 2-5, 40 per cent 5th. PK 4-11, 63.6 per cent 29th
Bruins—Torey Krug (ankle)
Game Day Lines Oilers (projected)
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Connor McDavid Ty Rattie
Milan Lucic Leon Draisaitl Kailer Yamamoto
Drake Caggiula Jujhar Khaira Jess Puljujarvi
Tobias Rieder Ryan Strome Zack Kassian
Oscar Klefbom Adam Larsson
Darnell Nurse Kris Russell
Jason Garrison Matt Bening
Game Day Lines Bruins (projected)
Brad Marchand Patrice Bergeron David Pastrnak.
Jake DeBrusk David Krejci Joakim Nordstrom
Danton Heinen David Backes Anders Bjork
Chris Wagner Sean Kuraly Noel Acciari
Zdeno Chara Charlie McAvoy
John Moore Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk Kevan Miller
On Twitter: @NHLbyMatty
Latest Oil Spills podcast: Pressure already on Oilers in their return to North America
NHL beat writer Jim Matheson has been on the road with the Edmonton Oilers for the last week and a half, starting in Germany, where the team played an exhibition game in centre Leon Draisaitl’s home town of Cologne, followed by their regular-season debut in Gothenburg, Sweden, against the New Jersey Devils, a 5-2 loss. And now, the Oilers will make their debut on North American ice on Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018, facing the host Boston Bruins — a potentially tough matchup as are most of their games at the beginning of the 2018-19 NHL schedule. Host Craig Ellingson and fellow hockey writer Derek Van Diest talk to Matty on Wednesday, Oct. 10, about the Oilers’ seemingly uphill climb of the schedule, reaction to their loss in Sweden, lineup changes on the bottom two forward lines, the continuing education of the young defence, including rookie Evan Bouchard, and the notable play of Oilers forward Milan Lucic, who was a bright light in the loss to the Devils.