The Boston Bruins are surging and the Edmonton Oilers are reeling, though both teams are plagued by some key absences.
The Bruins may get David Krejci back Thursday night at home when they look to defeat the Oilers for the 13th straight meeting.
Boston (8-6-0) has won three straight, the latter two without Krejci – second on the team with nine points. He is out reportedly with a hip injury, though he returned to practice Wednesday.
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Coach Claude Julien said he would speak to the team’s trainers Thursday to determine if Krejci can play.
"If he would be ready, I would want him in the lineup," Julien said. "Why sit him out a game when he’s ready?"
The Bruins, who are also without defenseman Zdeno Chara, have received stellar work from Brad Marchand in the win streak. The winger has six points, including an assist and the winning goal in Tuesday’s 2-1 overtime victory over Florida.
"We’re finding ways to win which is very important," Marchand said. "We haven’t put our best game on the ice every night but the last three games, we’ve found a way to win and that’s what we need."
Marchand’s goal gave the Bruins nine straight wins over the Panthers as they get ready to try to make it an unlucky 13 in a row in this series for Edmonton (4-7-1), which has lost eight times with one tie in its last nine visits to Boston.
The Oilers have lost three straight overall and will again be without Taylor Hall and Andrew Ference. Hall, who has a team-high 10 points, is expected to be out two to four weeks with an MCL sprain while former Boston defenseman Ference will serve the middle game of a three-game ban for an illegal hit to the head.
"Those two guys, you can’t replace those guys, obviously your best player and your captain so that’s tough but some guys want more ice time, it’s a better opportunity for other guys," winger Teddy Purcell said.
Purcell is eager to see how Edmonton fares against the Bruins.
"They’re really well coached, they stick to their systems really well. They don’t give up a lot of second chances in front of their net and when they do, they got a pretty good goalie out there in Tuukka Rask," Purcell said.
Former Tampa Bay defenseman Keith Aulie will make his Oilers debut after being called up from the minors Monday. Aulie fought with Boston’s Milan Lucic two seasons ago and also fought Shawn Thornton last season when the winger played for the Bruins.
"Keith’s going in," coach Dallas Eakins said. "We’re looking for some grit and not just out of Keith, it’s gotta come from everybody on our team and especially our back end."
Edmonton opened a five-game trip with Tuesday’s 4-1 loss to Philadelphia. The Oilers went 0 for 4 on the power play, dropping to 0 for 15 over their last four games.
Lucic will become the 49th Bruin to reach the 500-game plateau.