– The Oilers' six-game road swing continued with a 20-minute morning skate at Boston's TD Garden at 11:30am local time.
Selected No. 1 and No. 2 overall in 2010, Edmonton's Taylor Hall
and Boston's Tyler Seguin will be etched, inked and linked to one another throughout their sure-to-be prosperous NHL careers.
Hall led the storm last season, notching 22 goals and 42 points in his rookie campaign, averaging 18:12 per game in a premiere scoring role. Seguin, on the other hand, played much less (12:12 per game), scoring 11 goals and 22 points in 74 games.
He did win the Stanley Cup in 2010-11, mind you. This season, the B's talented sophomore has produced eight goals and 15 points in 13 games to lead Boston in scoring.
made sure to remind the media horde that there was a never-ending story to tell. With a quick quip to lighten the mood, laughter was shared among the camera and microphone-bound masses:
"Who's better, Taylor or Tyler?"
"Let's start with that question," a local scribe said, passing to Taylor's attention. "It's not for me to decide, I guess," Hall laughed in response.
Hall, riddled with a three-game pointless streak, is making his debut visit to the TD Garden tonight. As No. 4 describes, the experience will be great, but the impending challenge is a blessing to the red-hot Oilers; having won in Montreal the other night, although being out-shot by a 29-14 margin, there are areas that the orange and blue want to clean up.
"We know that they're a team that's been playing well," Hall explained. "We know they had a tough start, but we have the same game-plan coming in, especially on the road. We want to keep it simple."
K.I.S.S. (KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID)
Keeping the same simple will be essential for the Oilers. Boston began the season with only three wins in nine games, but have since strung together three straight to pull back into the race.
27-year-old Corey Potter
continues to play well on the orange and blue's blueline, scoring twice and adding six assists in 12 games, highlighting his work as a puck-moving, shutdown presence on the backend.
He, too, is expecting a tough matchup in Beantown but is equally as prepared to help provide a simple, calming structure.
"We've been able to squeak away with some points [on the road trip]," Potter said at the Oilers' morning skate. "Our goaltending has been great, our penalty-killing has been great, so I think we've got to sharpen up a few other areas of our game and I think we'll take care of business.
"We need to play more of a team game," he added. "A little more support, having less turnovers and getting the puck into the zone; playing more offence and less defence."
"Stay patient and stick with the game-plan. If you get outside of that game-plan, things start to break down and you get into trouble. As long as we get pucks out and keep the turnovers down, we'll be alright."
Alongside Ben Eager
and Lennart Petrell
, Anton Lander
, 20, has been heating up on the team's fourth line. Against a team such as Boston that boasts 288 hits on the season (42 more than the Oilers), the fourth unit's duty is especially vital.
"I've never met Boston before; I've only seen them on TV, but they play really hard and work really hard out there," Lander explained. "We have to be prepared for that and go out and work harder than them. That's how it is. The team that goes out and sticks to their game-plan usually wins the game.
"We have to be ready for them," he added. "We have to keep up the forecheck. We haven't been so good in that area in the last few games. We have to go out there, stick to the game-plan and work hard. They're going to come strong to the net, so we've got to box them out and allow [our goalies] to see the puck."
Lander has now skated in 14 NHL games, posting one assist and a -1 rating, and looking more poised as days (and games) roll by.
"When you play more games, have more practice and you work on a few things every day, you get better," he said. "Playing with [Petrell and Eager] helps, too. They make it a lot easier on me to get accustomed."
Head Coach Tom Renney agreed with Lander's assessment. The rookie has been trusted with increased minutes and more challenging assignments against other teams' top lines; he's now averaging well over 10 minutes per game.
"As players are provided with more opportunity, you get to learn more about them," the bench boss said. "In some cases, it might be too much for them to handle; and Anton, to this point at least, has shown he's capable of handling whatever we send his way.
"You need people that are responsible without the puck, that know how to navigate 200x85 and do that with a level of intelligence that allows others to participate and do their thing, and he's very good at that. He's a very smart player.
"What I like about him, too, and I think it's dormant, mind you, is that he does have an attack game. He can distribute the puck and can get it to the net. Over time as he gets more comfortable and we demand more of him, he'll start to contribute more on the scoresheet."
(2-3-0, 2.19 goals-against average, .930 save percentage) gets his sixth start of the season tonight as the Oilers search for their third win of this marathon six-game road trip.
There are no changes to the Oilers' lineup tonight. Magnus Paajarvi
remains out as a healthy scratch:
View Line Combinations
-- Ryan Dittrick, edmontonoilers.com
- Follow me on Twitter | @ryandittrick
NHL.COM GAME PREVIEW
Edmonton 7-2-1; Boston 5-5-0
First and only meeting. Last year, the Bruins went into Edmonton and earned a 3-2 victory on Feb. 27.
Back in the days of Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Cam Neely and Ray Bourque, this was a Stanley Cup Final matchup in 1988 and 1990 -- Edmonton prevailing both times for the final championships in their run as a dynasty. Boston returned to its glory days by winning the Cup last spring, but entering this matchup it's the visiting Oilers who are division leaders, sparked by a strong young nucleus and a white-hot veteran goaltender.
They've been called a lot of things in recent years, but "best defensive team" in hockey certainly hasn't been one of them.
The Oilers have allowed a League-low 21 goals in 14 games, and it's thanks largely to the outstanding play of goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin
. After stopping 28 of 29 shots in 3-1 win against the Canadiens on Tuesday, he is 7-0-2 with an 0.98 goals-against average and .964 save percentage.
"Great goaltending gave us a chance," said veteran forward Ryan Smyth
, who took over the team lead with his seventh goal on an empty-netter in the final minute. "(Khabibulin) has been playing superb all year and we played tight in the first period and in the second we loosened up a bit. In the third they had some chances but we found a way to hold on. It was a good road win."
It may be time to put away the aspirin because it appears the hangover has gone away.
After beating the Islanders 6-2 on Monday, the Bruins are in the midst of a three-game winning streak. Nathan Horton and David Krejci had 3 points apiece, and the Bruins look like they've found their hunger after a lackluster first month.
"It definitely makes you stronger," said Horton, when asked after the game about emerging from his doldrums. "The tough times are not easy, but tonight I felt better. It makes you feel better getting points and feeling good out there. I still want work on my game and keep getting better and do anything I can to help my team."
Edmonton's Ryan Smyth
has 5 goals and 3 assists in his last five games. … Boston's Tyler Seguin is looking like a player set to break out in his second year. He has 5 goals and 1 assist in his last four games.
Defenseman Ryan Whitney
(knee) is out. … Boston's Daniel Paille has a broken nose and facial lacerations after absorbing the full weight of a Steve Staios slap shot Monday. Rich Peverley missed the Islanders game with an undisclosed ailment.
A big reason for the Oilers' terrific start defensively has been its dominance on the penalty kill. They rank fourth at 89.3 percent, giving up just 6 goals on 56 chances. … Boston's power play has been middling, but it's 3-for-10 over this three-game winning streak.
"Yeah, the sooner the better, right?" -- Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask, after beating the Islanders to get his first win of the season.