The Boston Bruins took the ice this afternoon in the NHL’s Northern most outpost ahead of tomorrow’s matchup with the Pacific Division leading Edmonton Oilers. The Bruins, who are rolling right now, will face an Oilers team that is winning games but missing six regulars from their lineup. Two points will be there for the taking tomorrow night at Rogers Place.
Today, the Bruins took the ice at the Edmonton Community Arena that is attached to Rogers Place. It was a nice homecoming for Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk. DeBrusk was born and raised in Edmonton, and his father Louie is the color commentator for Oilers broadcasts on Sportsnet.
“We don’t get this amount of time in Edmonton [usually], so it’s kind of nice to get,” DeBrusk told reporters after Bruins practice. “Saw some friends yesterday…Today is family time and get ready for the game. It’s obviously special but it’s one of those things that kind of just comes and goes pretty fast, it’s nice to have some days here.”
The Bruins arrived in town on Monday and will remain in Alberta through their game Friday night in Calgary. That extra time for the Bruins has allowed DeBrusk, as he mentioned, to catch up with friends and family. That includes his dad, who will be on the mic on Wednesday night.
“Anytime that I can get to see my dad, it’s always nice,” DeBrusk added. “It definitely brings that element to it. This is my third time doing it, but definitely feels pretty similar every time we come into Edmonton. It’s a little snowy out there but this time of year but it’s nice to be back in the mix for sure.”
Injured Oilers Still Dangerous
Connor McDavid will miss his fifth consecutive game with a quad injury on Wednesday night. The best player in the world returned to Edmonton Tuesday from rehab in Toronto, but isn’t expected to return until Friday night at the earliest. That’s a big break for the Bruins.
The Oilers will also be without Kris Russell (concussion) and James Neal (foot), who both suffered setbacks recently. Forward Joakim Nygard (hand) is also on injured reserve while defenseman Oscar Klefbom (shoulder) is expected out two-to-three weeks after an injury update this morning.
Still, even with this makeshift roster, the Oilers are 3-1-0 without McDavid. This is still a dangerous team that the Bruins will need to be ready for.
“Obviously, the Oilers have all of their weapons – not all their weapons, but they have enough weapons every night. I know McDavid’s out and [Zack] Kassian, good players for them. They seem to have survived that, and that’s the mark of a good team. A team that plays with a lot of structure, they can plug guys in and still get points. So, that’ll be our challenge,” coach Bruce Cassidy said.
Kassian will serve the third game of his seven game suspension for kicking Tampa Bay’s Erik Cernak last Thursday night.
Leon Draisaitl has a 13-point cushion on David Pastrnak for the NHL’s scoring lead. With McDavid out, Draisaitl is making a case for the Hart Trophy. Pastrnak actually couldn’t be happier for his new friend. The two European stars have taken over the NHL after working out together this past summer. Coincidence?
“We’ve become close friends through the summer,” said Pastrnak. The Czech sniper has 82 points (42 g, 40 a), while Draisaitl has 95 points on the season (34 g, 61 a). His 61 assists lead the NHL, while Pastrnak’s 42 goals are a league best mark.
“I’m really happy for him. Like I said, he’s having a great season. I remember before we signed these contracts we were hanging out a lot so, I’m really happy for him. It’s always fun times with him and he works really hard. It’s well deserved. He probably already did get to 100, no? Close? Well hopefully we can keep in from one more game.”
Zdeno Chara and Brendan Gallagher had a testy battle last Wednesday night in Boston. According to Sportsnet’s Eric Engels, Chara reached over enemy lines recently to apologize for his actions. That action was cross-checking the Canadiens’ forward in the throat.
Brendan Gallagher said Zdeno Chara called him to apologize after cross checking him in the throat. He appreciated the gesture.
— Eric Engels (@EricEngels) February 18, 2020
Classy gesture from the Bruins captain, who has does this before. Chara also reached out to Ryan Callahan, then with the New York Rangers, when the forward was injured blocking one of Chara’s blistering slapshots.
Boston Bruins Lines
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk – David Krejci – Karson Kuhlman
Anders Bjork – Charlie Coyle – Danton Heinen/Anton Blidh
Joakim Nordstrom – Sean Kuraly – Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara – Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug – Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk – Jeremy Lauzon
John Moore – Par Lindholm