The Boston Bruins’ travel plans were delayed due to a non-COVID illness impacting their team. They usually like to fly out west a day early and practice before playing, but that didn’t happen this time as they arrived in Vancouver late Tuesday and then lost 2-1 in a shootout last night.
The Oilers need to take advantage of a weary lineup.
— The Bruins have 12 wins in 22 games. They haven’t lost three games in a row yet, but they’ve only won three in a row once as well. They’ve yet to find a rhythm and Edmonton needs to play fast like they did for long stretches against the Wild.
— The Oilers had 39 shots on goal, fired another 20 that missed the net and had 13 shot attempts blocked. Putting 72 pucks towards the net was their third highest total of the season. Their 59 shots and missed shots was the most this season. It is great to have that many looks, but 20 missed shots isn’t ideal. They had some great looks where they missed. The Jesse Puljujarvi shot from the slot when he had the entire top of the net open had him very frustrated. His body language showed that.
— But having that many shots, on net or missed, showed how much more the Oilers had the puck than in previous games. They played with more energy and urgency and if they play like that they will win more than they lose.
— Cody Ceci skated yesterday and I believe there is a good chance he will play tonight. That means one of Kris Russell, Philip Broberg or Markus Niemelainen comes out. Broberg had played a few games with Ceci prior to him getting COVID, so maybe Jim Playfair goes back to that unit. However, Broberg hasn’t played as much since the return of Darnell Nurse. He only played 10 minutes last game, so I could see him coming out. It isn’t the most accurate stat, because you can be on the ice and not remotely involved in a goal for or against, but Broberg’s GF-GA is 2-9 right now.
— His 18.2GF% is the worst among blueliners. He is only 20 years of age. Playing defence in the NHL is difficult and despite some struggles, he will gain invaluable experience from these eight games that will help him when he plays in the AHL and when he returns to the NHL in the future. Very few players, at any position, have instant success in the NHL. It is the best league in the world and Broberg has only played 21 pro games on the smaller North American ice. I wouldn’t be down on him at all. He is going to be a solid defender in the future.
— Duncan Keith also skated yesterday, but isn’t ready to play tonight. Maybe Saturday against Carolina. When he returns I wonder if they go with Russell or the bruising Niemelainen. Based on minutes played, we could see Niemelainen stick around a bit longer. I think Niemelainen will still be here once Keith and Ceci are activated. William Lagesson will be reassigned before Niemelainen, maybe even before Broberg. Although, I’d rather have Lagesson sit in the press box and have Broberg play games in the AHL. When Slater Koekkoek is healthy, that is when a decision will be made, and if Niemelainen continues to play well I think there is a good chance he stays. He’s added a dimension to their blueline: big and physical. He does need to improve his passing and puck handling, and that is what they work on after practice. Real gains likely occur in the off-season when he has more time to really work on it.
— I liked the Foegele-McLeod-Kassian line against Minnesota. Tippett challenged them, in a positive way, when he let them start the game and each of the second and third periods. They should be the most energetic line on the team and I felt they were moving their feet and more involved. Foegele twice had the puck behind the net with Kassian open and didn’t connect on the pass. Those types of plays around the net can be huge difference makers if you make them.
— Kailer Yamamoto and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins need to get going offensively. In their last 60 regular season games they have seven goals each. And they’ve played almost exclusively in the top-six. Yamamoto has 14 points (843 minutes TOI) and RNH has 18 in 852 minutes. Compare that to Zach Hyman (24 games) who has seven goals and 11 points in 328 minutes this season. Or Jesse Puljujarvi (14-14-28 in 909 minutes) and it is clear Yamamoto and RNH must start contributing more offensively while playing in the top-six.
— The Bruins are 26th in 5×5 goals/game at 1.63. Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak lead them with 11 and 10 points at 5×5 while Charlie Coyle leads with six goals, while Marchand and Bergeron have four, Pastnak has three. Those are the only forwards with three 5×5 goals. Taylor Hall and Erik Haula have one while Jake Debrusk and Craig Smith have two. Derek Forbort has four goals to lead their blueline. He and Charlie McAvoy lead the Bruins blueliners with five points. Edmonton has five defenders with five or more 5×5 points.
— The Bruins don’t score much, but they don’t give up much at 5×5. They’ve allowed the second fewest shots/game at 5×5 at 22.18.
— Like Edmonton, the Bruins have very good special teams. Their power play is sixth at 25.4% while their penalty kill sits seventh at 84.1%. Edmonton’s PP is first at 32% and their PK is sixth at 84.2%. However in the last month the Oilers PP is 20% and their PK is 83%, while the Bruins PP is 25.6% and their PK is a stifling 91.2%. Tonight will not be an easy game for the Oilers power play.
— I’d start Stuart Skinner in goal tonight. Mikko Koskinen has lost two in a row. Jeremy Swayman was very good in the Bruins 2-1 shootout loss last night. Linus Ullmark backed him up, and is the likely starter tonight. Ullmark missed a few days of practice with a non-COVID illness, but should be available tonight. Ullmark hasn’t been as consistent as Swayman.
MONTH OF GIVING
Day Seven: A home Lighting Package from Astoria Lighting.
The winning bidder will receive Gemstone Lights supplied and installed for the front face of your home up to 250 feet. This is an example of how much 250 feet of lights will cover. It is a lot.
- These are year-round permanent LED Lighting.
- Custom Architectural – individually addressable lights.
- Limitless patterns and colours, holidays, special events, sports teams, and more.
- Create your own patterns.
- True Warm White.
- Cloud-enabled, control from anywhere from your apple or android device.
You can bid by listening to TSN 1260 between 2-6 p.m. today and calling 780.444.1260 or text 101260. All money raised will help out Santas Anonymous. Thanks in advance.
Canucks tickets are available now through FansFirst. Check it out here.