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NHL: Edmonton Oilers @ Boston Bruins preview

The NHL leading Boston Bruins (49-8-5) will aim to extend their winning streak to 11 games as they host Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers (35-22-8). 

Boston's run of ten victories, which included a 3-2 win over Edmonton in late-February, is their longest since a 12-game streak in 2013/14.

The Oilers, meanwhile, have their sights set on winning the Pacific Division (+450) in which they are currently fourth but just four points behind leaders Vegas Golden Knights (+110).

WhatEdmonton Oilers @ Boston Bruins 
WhereTD Garden, Boston 
When7:30pm EST, Thursday, March 9, 2023
How to watchESPN+, Hulu, SN, TVAS / NHL.com
OddsEDM Oilers +160, BOS Bruins -180

McDavid the danger man

In the previous meeting between the two teams, Oilers' captain McDavid became the first and only player to reach 50 goals in the NHL this season and his current 54 is ten more than Boston's David Pastrnak who is second. 

McDavid not only leads the league in goals, but his 124 points is 28 more than any other player with teammate Leon Draisaitl second. 

Even more impressive, the Oilers Captain has reached the figure in just 65 games and has beaten his career high of 123 in 80 games last season.

His scintillating form has helped the Oilers to the first Wild Card spot in the Western Division and he is -4000 to win the Hart Memorial Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player. 

McDavid and Draisaitl's production is a key factor for the Oilers having the best goal-scoring record in the league, averaging 3.86 which just edges the Bruins' 3.79 in second. 

They also have the best powerplay in the NHL, firing at an impressive 31.7%, but while they score a lot of goals, to McDavid's obvious frustration at times this season, they also concede far too many. 

Edmonton's goals against average of 3.29 ranks 21st in the league and their penalty kill of 75% is 24th. 

Tough test against mean Bruins

The Oilers won't find it as easy as usual to generate offence against the Bruins who own the best defensive record in the NHL, allowing just 2.08 goals per game and while they will have respect for it, Boston won't fear Edmonton's powerplay either as they have the best penalty kill of all teams at 86.6%. 

In the last meeting, Bruins' discipline was much praised as they held the Oilers to just one opportunity on the man advantage and staying out of the box will be important again. 

Boston had five powerplay chances, failing to score on any which will have disappointed them considering they have a usual 23.2% conversion rate which is seventh in the league.

The Bruins have already broken several all-time regular season records, including being the quickest team ever to reach 100 points, in just 61 games. 

They have lost just twice at TD Garden this season (26-2-3) and so it will be a major challenge for the Oilers to take points away from Boston, but they have the talent to do so. 

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Skinner ready to seize starter role 

Aiming to get the nod in goal against the Bruins is Stuart Skinner who after starting the season in the number two role behind Jack Campbell, has far outperformed his low-in-confidence teammate. 

Campbell was signed on a five-year, $5-million deal by the Oilers in the off-season but with a 17-9-4 record, .882 save percentage and 3.57 goals-against-average (GAA) has failed to live up to expectations thus far.

Skinner, meanwhile, has performed admirably with a 18-13-4 record, .913 save percentage and 2.86 GAA. 

He will have his work cut out to perform whoever gets the start for Boston, though, with the most likely Linus Ullmark leading the league with 32 wins (32-4-1), a .938 save percentage and 1.89 GAA which makes him 1/9 to win the Vezina Trophy as the league's best goalie. 

When rested, Jeremy Swayman has also been excellent with a 16-4-4 record, .918 save percentage and 2.27 GAA. 

Newbies making an impact 

The Bruins are on pace to record the best regular season record in history and claim the Presidents' Trophy and home ice advantage throughout the playoffs. 

But, that didn't stop them from adding Tyler Bertuzzi from Detroit Red Wings and Dmitry Orlov and Garnet Hathaway from Washington Capitals ahead of the trade deadline. 

The trio have wasted no time making an impression, particularly Orlov who was named the NHL's First Star of the week after scoring three goals, six assists for nine points in four games. 

Hathaway has two assists in five games and Bertuzzi grabbed a helper on his recent debut. 

The Oilers also made a big addition in attempt to sure up their defence in 6'4" Mattias Ekholm and he leads the team in plus/minus (+8) over four games.

Boston are seeking to win a seventh Stanley Cup this season, which would be their first since 2011 and they are +330 to do it. 

If Edmonton were to be crowned champions (+1500) it would be their sixth in history and first since 1990. 

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