|Photo: Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images|
The Boston Bruins continue their four game home stand tonight against the Edmonton Oilers. The Bruins have won six of their last eight games and are now two games above .500 (8-6-0) for the first time all season. Edmonton (4-7-1) sees themselves in a familiar position yet again this year as the cellar dwellers in the much more competitive Western Conference. The Oilers' road record is a big cause of this as the team has not won any of their four games away from Rexall Place. Let's take a look at this match-up from all angles:
Offense: There is no one hotter on the Bruins right now than Brad Marchand. Marchand scored the game winner in OT against Florida on Tuesday night and has four goals in his past three games. David Krejci may also return to the lineup tonight as he skated Wednesday prior to his team's practice and again this morning. For Edmonton, Taylor Hall leads the team in scoring, but will not play tonight as he is still nursing a knee injury. That puts more pressure on Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to produce. Watch out for David Perron as well tonight. Perron scored a goal in each of last year's two games against Boston.
Defense: Unfortunately for the Oilers' defense and Bruins' fans, Andrew Ference will be watching tonight's game from the top floor as he continues to serve his three game suspension. That leaves Justin Schultz, Edmonton's top scoring defensemen, as the man responsible to stop Boston's best scorers. For Boston, expect to see more of the same with Chara, Miller and, Krug still injured. Joe Morrow, David Warsofsky, and Zach Trotman have performed admirably in the absence of the aforementioned injured blue-liners.
Goalies: Former Anaheim Duck, Viktor Fasth got the start Tuesday in Philadelphia and did not perform well at all giving up four goals on twenty-five shots. Former Maple Leaf Ben Scrivens should get the start tonight in Boston. The Bruins don't have another game until next Monday so expect to see Tuukka Rask in net again tonight.
Prediction: Without Taylor Hall in the lineup, the Oilers' top line is not as threatening and Claude Julien will use his top line defense to shut down Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins. If David Krejci plays, the Bruins' top line will be much more threatening and the Bergeron-Marchand-Smith is playing very well. Edmonton has some skill, but the Bruins are much deeper. 4-2 Bruins.