|Notes and Observations Week 16: Patriots Escape from New York with 17-16 Win; Clinch First Round Bye.||Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Win By Less Than a FOOT||Panic Mode in Full Effect, Minutemen are Struggling||Patriots Survive Gritty Challenge From Jets|
The Bruins (35-19-7) continue their trek across the Great White North this evening, lacing them up at Rexall Place to take on the lowly Edmonton Oilers (20-34-8).
Boston is coming off a very impressive 3-1 victory last night over the league’s top team, the Vancouver Canucks. Hometown boy Milan Lucic proved to be the hero in front of his family and friends, providing a pair of assists to go along with the game-winning goal, with just under five minutes left to go in the game. That goal put the B’s up 2-1, and with an empty-netter from Patrice Bergeron to seal the deal, the B’s emerged from Vancouver with their fourth straight win.
As for Edmonton, their season can’t end soon enough. With just 48 points in the standings, they are well on their way to earning themselves the worst record in the league for the second straight season. The Oilers are the polar opposites of last night’s Bruins opponent, as they rank at or near the bottom of the league in so many different key stat categories. Tonight, Edmonton will look to rebound from a dreadful 5-0 loss to the Blues Friday night.
To get you ready for tonight’s action, let’s roll out some pre-game notes…
- This is the one and only meeting on the season between Boston and Edmonton tonight. The Bruins beat the Oilers in their only meeting last season, 2-0, back on Halloween night of 2009.
- The B’s have beaten Edmonton eight straight times, including shutout wins in their last three. The last time the Oilers beat the Bruins was a 6-1 home win, back on October 17, 2000.
- While Milan Lucic certainly enjoyed returning home to play in front of family and friends last night in his native Vancouver, both Andrew Ference and Johnny Boychuk will have that same pleasure tonight, skating in front of their loved ones in Edmonton, where they each grew up. Ference, however, left last night’s game early after sustaining a lower-body injury. He is out for tonight’s game.
- For added blueline depth, the Bruins yesterday signed Shane Hnidy to a one-year contract. Hnidy, who saw action with Boston from 2007-09, hasn’t played in the NHL this season after injuring his shoulder while in training camp with Phoenix last fall. He won’t be ready for game action for another few weeks, but the 35-year-old Hnidy is a welcome addition to a Bruins locker room that loved “The Sheriff” while he wore black and gold.
- With Hnidy’s addition to the roster, tomorrow’s 3pm NHL trade deadline should be a quiet one for the B’s front office. If they do make any more deals in the next 24 hours or so, Sports of Boston will certainly be on top of it, so stay tuned.
- Tonight’s matchup will feature the two top draft picks from a year ago, Edmonton’s Taylor Hall and Boston’s Tyler Seguin. The two players have had very different rookie seasons so far, with Hall appearing in every one of his team’s 62 games, ranking second on the Oilers in points with 21 goals and 19 assists. Seguin has struggled comparatably, limited to just 10 goals and 11 assists in 57 games, having served as a healthy scratch on four occasions this season.
- Beyond Hall, the Oilers’ scoring is led by wingers Ales Hemsky (13G, 35A) and Dustin Penner (21G, 17A).
- Goaltending duties for the Oilers are handled by veteran Nikolai Khabibulin (10-26-2, 3.33GAA) and youngster Devan Dubnyk (8-8-6, 2.88GAA).
- Defensemen Taylor Chorney (knee) and Ryan Whitney (ankle) will miss tonight’s contest with their injuries.
- Edmonton ranks 27th in goals per game (2.50), 29th in goals against per game (3.24), and last in both power play (13.0%) and penalty kill (75.6%) percentage.