Bruins vs. Oilers: Debating the big questions ahead of Thursday’s clash
Thursday, March 9, has long been marked on the calendar of NHL fans.
Today’s game between Boston Bruins and Edmonton Oilers (7:30 AM ET Exclusive on Sportzshala+ and Hulu) is not just a rematch of the 1990 Stanley Cup Finals, although perhaps is 2023 Stanley Cup Final preview.
History is being made on both sides. This season, the Bruins scored 65 wins and 136 points, which is an NHL record (current figures – 62 and 132, respectively). It was the fastest team in NHL history to reach 100 points. Goaltender Linus Ullmark could jeopardize the NHL record for wins and is well ahead in the race for the Vezina Trophy.
On the other hand, Connor McDavid leads the league with 54 goals and 124 points – he is 10 points ahead of the league’s No. 2 in goals (Boston’s David Pastrnak) and 28 points ahead of the No. 2 in points (Edmonton teammate). Leon Draisaitl). In terms of pace, he is on his way to 68 goals and 156 points. The 124 is already ahead of McDavid’s league-high scoring from 2021 to 2022, and if he maintains his current pace, it will be the highest since Mario Lemieux’s 161 in 1995/96.
If you haven’t been into the setup yet, we’ve gathered our hockey journalists here to discuss important issues related to this game:
The Bruins will finish the season with _____ wins and _____ points.
Ryan S. Clark: Let’s start with 65 wins and 136 points. They’ve won 79% of their games this season and… it’s just ridiculous to say it out loud. The numbers I have given are what will happen if the Bruins continue to move at their current pace.
This does not mean that these numbers cannot change. Of course they can. But for now, it’s hard to argue with a team that made additions to the trade deadline to become even more indomitable.
Victoria Matyash: The Bruins will lose two of their last 20 games in regulation and two in overtime. That’s 49 plus 16 – 1… – 65 wins and 137 points. Patrice Bergeron & Co. don’t just want to break the record, they want to break it. Plus, this crew intends to go to the playoffs as hot as possible.
Kristen Shilton: Boston will score 64 wins and 134 points. Once the Bruins break the NHL record for most regular season wins — which seems a foregone conclusion at this point — it makes sense to rest some of their veterans. This is preparation for what they hope – and we all believe – will be a long spring.
As good as these Bruins have been in the past few months, the real Boston behemoth is due in April.
Greg Wyshinsky: The Bruins would finish with 63 wins to break the NHL record for most regular season games and 132 points to equal the 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens, the most in NHL history in a single season. (Montreal wins the tiebreak by doing so in 80 games.)
Aside from being a steamroller, Boston otherwise has a fairly comfortable schedule with an equal number of playoff contenders and lottery teams. They will go down in history and then give their veteran players a well-deserved respite before the post-season routine.
Connor McDavid and David Pastrnak are now league leaders in scoring. Who will win Rocket Richard at the end of the season?
Clark: Most likely, it will be McDavid or Pastrnak. Although, if we have to pick someone other than those two, maybe Teige Thompson is the answer.
As of Thursday, Thompson is just two goals behind Pastrnak. Remember, Thompson scored 13 goals in the month of December. He has shown he can piece together those notable scoring streaks. Now he’s trying to do it as the Sabers battle it out for a playoff spot. He seems like the strongest non-McDavid/non-Pastrnak candidate.
Matthias: McDavid wins the Rocket with 70, frowning the whole way. Mikko Rantanen finished second with 55 points, shaming many of us for not giving him enough attention this season.
Shilton: It’s hard to bet against player McDavid, who has scored multiple goals in 12 of 65 games this season (so far). McDavid can flip a switch like no other in hockey.
It would take a truly uncharacteristic drought or serious injury to stop McDavid from winning the Rocket. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if McDavid finished the season with 70 goals.
Vyshinsky: McDavid nearly set the NHL record for most consecutive multi-goal games, and I don’t think this mayhem will end any time soon.
I would say Connor will score a total of 69 goals as he will end the best scoring season in NHL history by anyone other than Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemieux.
Will this be our matchup in the 2023 Stanley Cup Finals? If not, who do you have?
Clark: Not right now. It looks like Boston has what it takes to reach the Cup final this season. But it’s not often that a President’s Trophy winner also brings home the Stanley Cup. However, this version of the Bruins looks like it might just be different.
Edmonton is a complex city. This is a team that struggled to find consistency. But it could also play into the hands of the Oilers, given that the West has been so tight this year that no clear favorite has taken the lead yet.
Matthias: Why not? Having lost all eight games on the first team since October, Now Is the Bruins expected to lose half that amount in two weeks or less? This math doesn’t make sense. In addition, in its current form, the club has become even better thanks to Dmitry Orlov and Tyler Bertuzzi. Not to mention, striker Taylor Hall could be good to rejoin the forces ahead once we get to the playoff stage.
In the West, the best player in the world club has finally acquired a much-needed dominator of the defensive zone in the person of Matthias Ekholm. What helps. A lot of. From a dense opposing crowd, including the Dallas Stars, the Colorado Avalanche. unsuccessful To choose the best option to play in the center of the second line – the Vegas Golden Knights and the Minnesota Wild, the Oilers have no less chance of reaching the final round.
Shilton: Phew. If only! Imagine, first, three rounds of watching Connor McDavid in the playoffs. This is a good theatre. However, Edmonton’s post-season track record doesn’t see him as a true Cup Final contender. We all know that the game changes when it’s playoff time. Will the Oilers be able to use the defensive elements they need to go all the way?
On the other hand, the Bruins have demonstrated their capabilities throughout the season. Aside from the narrative that “presidential trophy winners will never achieve anything,” there is no flaw in the claim that Boston is the Cup Final favorite. There are more dark horses in the Western Conference than in the Eastern. Thus, it is more difficult to predict who will come out on top.
Vyshinsky: We have one team from my preseason Stanley Cup Finals and that’s the Oilers. My preseason pick was the Oilers vs. the Carolina Hurricanes as we’re having fun like it’s 2006. I’ll stick with it for as long as I can, in the hope that I’ll look like a genius if it hits.
But if you’re looking for a spicy take on the Bruins, here it is: I’m taking the field against Boston in the Eastern Conference playoffs. The next three best teams in the entire NHL after the Bruins are the Hurricanes, the New Jersey Devils, and the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Tampa Bay Lightning, who are aiming for a fourth consecutive Stanley Cup Final, and the New York Rangers are in the top ten, or near the top ten. There’s a chance the Bruins could face Sidney Crosby in the first round of the playoffs. and anyone who saw the Pittsburgh Penguins’ streak against the Rangers last season knows how he can enforce his will in the streak.
Maybe there’s a reason the whole East has pushed back trade deadlines. Perhaps these teams don’t see the Boston juggernaut as unstoppable.