Edmonton Oilers

Morning Skate: Chiarelli feeling the heat in Edmonton

Morning Skate: Chiarelli feeling the heat in Edmonton

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while it’s, "game on!" tonight at TD Garden.  

*It sounds like Peter Chiarelli knows the heat is on him to get the Edmonton Oilers back into the playoffs next season. Boy, that pressure cooker is building in Oil City.

*Speaking of Chiarelli, he also still very much believes in Milan Lucic. Which I hope he should given the contract he signed him to a couple of years ago.

*A piece in the San Jose Mercury News about whether or not Evander Kane deserves his bad boy rep. I don’t know him so I can’t say firsthand, but I’d say there’s enough smoke there for it to be true.

*Pro Hockey Talk discusses whether or not the Montreal Canadiens dressing room needs an attitude adjustment. I’d say that might be something to explore.

*Taylor Hall is embracing a star, leadership role with the New Jersey Devils after finding it hard to get that kind of traction in Edmonton.

*For something completely different: Eight awesome women from the comics are a good way to start your Thursday.

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Morning Skate: Lucic's season from hell

Morning Skate: Lucic's season from hell

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while enjoying the second-to-last weekend of the NHL regular season.

*It’s a season from hell for Milan Lucic with the Edmonton Oilers where he’s scored one goal in 42 games, and it sounds like he’s questioning a lot of things about his game. That’s tough to hear about one of the good guys in the NHL, but you hope it’s just a blip on the radar amidst a lost season for the Oilers as well.

*Interesting stuff as always from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Elliotte Friedman with Stan Bowman thinking that the Blackhawks can get back to their Stanley Cup level in short order.

*It can get ugly for teams that are out of it at the end of the NHL regular season, just as it’s been in Brooklyn with Josh Ho-Sang and the Islanders with coach Doug Weight now weighing in as well.

*In the interest of self-promotion, here’s my radio hit with Toucher and Rich from Friday morning talking about the growing excitement with the Stanley Cup playoffs around the corner for the Black and Gold.

*A group of NHL thoughts from around the league including Denis Potvin pouring some cold water on Connor McDavid’s candidacy for the Hart Trophy this season.

*Torey Krug talked with the NHL Network about the Bruins keeping up the intensity with six games to go until the playoffs get going for the Bruins.

*For something completely different: Meet the man behind the theme song for Stone Cold Steve Austin.

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What we learned: B's own the third, Chara's still go it

What we learned: B's own the third, Chara's still go it

Here’s what we learned from the Bruins' 3-2 comeback win in over the Oilers on Tuesday night in Edmonton.

1) The Bruins continue to be a dominant force in the third period.


That's a testament to their superior conditioning this season and the way they use their depth to overwhelm opponents in a 60-minute game. The Bruins scored their three goals in the third period to come all the way back from a two-goal deficit and have now outscored opponents 68-38 in the third this season in a jaw-dropping statistic. Basically, the Bruins are a plus-30 in goal differential at the time it matters most. They outshot the Oilers 14-6 in those final 20 minutes and continued pouring it on after they’d hit a couple of posts and missed some golden scoring chances earlier in the game. Some of that was certainly a testament to their resolve and character as they just keep on coming even when they’re getting a little frustrated by the game’s circumstances. Still, some of it is also about a clear time in the game where the Bruins have owned just about all their opponents this season. The third period is theirs.

2) Noel Acciari is finally looking healthy and back to form on the fourth line.


Acciari went through a 10-game scoreless drought and wasn’t playing up to his usual physical standards while he was playing through a lower-body injury in January. Acciari sat out for a couple of weeks to rest the injury, came back midway through February and in the past couple of games is finally back to the hard-hitting, hard-charging factor on the energy line (two hits and a couple of takeaways in his 13 minutes of ice time) that can actually provide a little offense. Acciari’s wraparound goal in the third period was important, too, as he spearheaded the three-goal outburst in the final 20 minutes. The Rhode Island kid now has seven goals on the season and has a legit chance of hitting double-digits this year if he can remain healthy down the stretch, which will always be a challenge given his no-holds-barred style.

3) It’s time to stop fooling around with the trades for left-shot D-men and sign Zdeno Chara to a contract extension.


Chara was immense shutting down Connor McDavid and holding him to two shots and continues to play excellent shutdown defense the past month against some of the top scoring stars in the league. Who can forget the way he completely smothered Auston Matthews in Toronto’s last trip to Boston as the B's gear up for another meeting with the Leafs on Saturday night? Chara has been an excellent warrior, leader and sort of an on-ice coach for the young D-men on the Bruins this season. He’s done everything that Boston has asked of him. Before making a blockbuster trade for a Ryan McDonagh or any other left side D-men that could ostensibly be seen as a long-term replacement for the Bruins captain, they should take care of things with Chara and try to get him locked down ahead of the playoffs. Nobody suspects it’s going to be an issue for the player in any way, shape or form and clearly, a contract year has brought out the best in a player who's a team-best plus-26 on the season. But I don’t think there’s that much more for Chara to prove about their still being gas left in the tank. It’s a reasonable assumption that he can play to this level next season at 41 as well. Certainly, he’s going to have his rough moments when the Bruins play 16 games in March and the playoff grind will always be a challenge for a 40-year-old, but Chara has already proven that Tom Brady isn’t the only 40-year-old ageless wonder still doing his thing in Boston these days.

Plus


*Bruce Cassidy deserves plenty of credit for switching out Riley Nash and David Krejci in the third period while still trailing. That proved to be the impetus behind the B's final two goals. Nash fed a crashing Matt Grzelcyk for the tying strike with his new linemates, and then Danton Heinen fed Krejci for the winner to put the B’s on top for good. Those are masterful adjustments from the B’s coaching staff.

*Chara played 22:39 of ice time while completely shutting down McDavid, had five shots on net and five blocked shots in a yeoman’s effort on the second night of back-to-backs. You know, 40-year-old players aren’t supposed to be able to do that stuff. Impressive,

*David Backes won a key one-on-one battle with Drake Caggiula along the side boards to set up Krejci’s goal, had five shots on net and was a stalwart, physical beast for the Bruins against a pretty rough-and-tumble Oilers crew.

Minus


*No shots on net in 13:22 for Milan Lucic. He did have six registered hits, but he wasn’t noticeable at all in a game where you’d expect the motor to still be running high.

*The same can be said for Patrick Maroon, who had a shot on net and a hit along with a minus-1 rating in 17:23 of ice time for the Oilers. If that was an audition to be a member of the Bruins, he didn’t really do a heck of a lot to impress them after killing them the past few years.

*One shot on net in 13:43 of ice time for Ryan Spooner, who was dropped to the third line with Nash in the third period. The Oilers might be a tough match-up for Spooner given their size and strength, but he’s got to find a way to be effective against those teams down the stretch.

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