EDMONTON, Alberta — The Edmonton Oilers and Boston Bruins are each battling for playoff positions in their respective conferences.
And their star players are making cases for end-of-season hardware.
Oilers center Connor McDavid and Bruins left winger Brad Marchand are in the conversation for the Hart Trophy, which goes to the league’s MVP, and the Art Ross Trophy, which goes to the player who has the most points.
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Marchand’s Bruins visit McDavid’s Oilers on Thursday.
Marchand and McDavid are in a three-way tie with Chicago’s Patrick Kane atop the league in points. Each player has 76. Technically, Marchand is considered the leader because he has the most goals (36) among the three.
Marchand had a goal and an assist in Wednesday’s 5-2 victory over Calgary, which saw the Bruins bring the Flames’ 10-game winning streak to a halt.
The Bruins come into Edmonton on a four-game winning streak and entered the conversation for the Atlantic Division title. Edmonton is coming off a 7-1 victory over Dallas on Tuesday.
“We are playing with a higher tempo, guys are joining the rush,” Marchand said. “And we seem to be scoring goals, which obviously helps.”
The Bruins’ David Pastrnak, who hit the 30-goal mark after scoring twice Wednesday, said the Bruins need to carry the momentum from Calgary three hours north on the Queen Elizabeth II Highway to Edmonton.
“I think definitely the third period, we came big,” Pastrnak said. “Tomorrow, it’s a new day and we need to play good again.”
Pastrnak said that getting to 30 goals isn’t as important as the push for the postseason.
“It’s nice, but we have a job to do.”
“We’ve got another tough game on the schedule,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “After tomorrow’s game, there’ll be another tough one. We don’t get too far ahead of ourselves. We’ve tried not to. We’ll address Edmonton in the morning.”
Before the seven-goal outburst against Dallas, the Oilers managed four goals in three games. The Stars are the league’s worst defensive team, and came at the just the right time for an Oilers team that was struggling with their confidence.
Coach Todd McLellan said that he hopes the outburst against Dallas will allow his forwards to feel more at ease when the Bruins are in town.
“It takes a little pressure and stress off the group,” McLellan said. “They can relax a little and play. Sometimes, when you do that, you give up a lot. There were moments in (the Dallas game) where we gave up a little too much, but we didn’t let it get away from us, which is a good sign.”
But McLellan said his players won’t assume its recent troubles are over because they scored seven on Dallas. He said his team will take the game and “park it” mentally.
“Our next opponent is another opportunity for us, and it’ll be a tough night.”
Even though the Oilers top line of Leon Draisaitl, Patrick Maroon and McDavid collected five points Tuesday, they weren’t at their best. And they see the Boston game as a chance to get back in a groove.
“I don’t think our line was very good tonight,” Draisaitl said after the Dallas game. “But, this time of year, it doesn’t matter who scores. I think our line is skilled enough to pick it up next game and get back to playing the way we can.”