Less than two weeks after the teams met for the first time this season, the Boston Bruins will put their 10-game win streak on the line when they host the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night.
The Bruins will have had four full days between games when they take the ice against a gifted Edmonton squad that they beat 3-2 back on Feb. 27. It was Boston’s third of four games on the road before returning for its current four-game homestand.
From now through the end of March, Boston’s schedule includes at least a game every other night. A home-and-home set with Detroit is on tap this weekend.
“We want to make sure that we’re playing good hockey and building our game as much as we can because the playoffs are right there,” Bruins forward Charlie Coyle said. “We want to keep playing each game and using (the recent time off) to our advantage to get better.”
As of Wednesday, Boston had an 11-point lead over Carolina for the best record in the Eastern Conference and overall NHL standings, while Edmonton had the West’s No. 1 wild-card position.
Despite the Bruins being undefeated since Feb. 11, their power play has clicked at just a 13.5 percent rate since the start of last month.
Recent practices have allowed coach Jim Montgomery to tinker with his combinations, putting newly acquired defenseman Dmitry Orlov as the point man.
“Our power play is kind of stalled,” Montgomery said. “It’s been flat, right? And if you look at the (Patrice) Bergeron unit, they’ve scored two goals over the last I don’t know how many games and (the only one that) was an in-zone goal was (Jake) DeBrusk’s first game back from injury.”
Orlov is the NHL’s reigning First Star of the Week, having logged three goals and nine points over five games.
The Oilers, meanwhile, have won three of their four games since Connor McDavid’s two-goal performance in the loss to Boston. They are 6-4-4 in their last 14.
“If you look at the way we played last week, when we gave up three or less we had a really good chance to win the game,” Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft said. “When we got into a track meet it didn’t go our way.”
Woodcroft also noted his team’s 17-3-2 record since Christmas when allowing three goals or fewer. With the Stanley Cup drive upcoming, games will often take such a shape.
McDavid, who is riding an 11-game point streak, is the NHL leader in goals (54) and points (124).
He reached a career-high mark in the latter category with his two goals in Monday’s 3-2 win at Buffalo. Only two players since 2000-01 have reached that point total.
“He’s the best player in the world and he’s pushing his own boundaries, personal bests in those categories,” Edmonton forward Zach Hyman said of McDavid. “He’s driving the bus. He’s been driving the bus for a long time and continues to get better.”
Despite Monday’s win, Leon Draisaitl saw his 12-game point streak come to an end. Draisaitl’s 96 points are second most in the NHL behind McDavid.
–Field Level Media