Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

McDavid matchup will be challenge for Bruins’ best

Matt Kalman
October 11, 2018 - 1:20 pm

The Bruins face the Edmonton Oilers twice each season, including Thursday night’s matchup at TD Garden.

So most of the Bruins’ best players have only faced the Oilers superstar Connor McDavid a handful of times. (McDavid has seven points, all assists, in four career games against Boston).

But Boston left wing Brad Marchand got an up-close look at McDavid as teammates during the 2016 IIHF World Championship.

“Most of the time whenever he got [the puck] and started skating up the ice, I just changed because I wasn’t catching him,” Marchand said after the Bruins’ morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena on Thursday. “It was impressive, just what he can do with the puck and at high speeds. Very few guys can do it, so you have to be ready whenever he has the puck. You never know when it’s going to come and it is tough to keep up with him, but you just have to try and find an area and he’ll get it to you. So he’s an incredible player.”

Marchand and his linemates, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak, should get plenty of shifts against McDavid’s line with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Ty Rattie. The Bruins’ fourth line of Sean Kuraly centering Chris Wagner and Noel Acciari might also get some head-to-head matchups with McDavid’s line.

The only certainty is that the defense pair of Zdeno Chara and Charlie McAvoy will get the bulk of the defensive assignment of trying to slow down McDavid. Chara had high praise for McDavid after practice on Wednesday.

“Connor is the best player in the league so for sure he’s unique, very special,” Chara said. “At 16 he could have played in the NHL but he couldn’t because of the rules and legal stuff, but he would have had 80 points,” said Chara.

“Did he need 100 games to show us how good he was? No, first game he was very much noticeable.”

Chara went on to compare McDavid to Wayne Gretzky and Sidney Crosby. Chara’s had his share of success against Crosby over the years, and now he’ll get another rare chance to test his abilities against McDavid’s.

Here’s the how the Bruins figure to line up against Edmonton:

Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak

Joakim Nordstrom-David Krejci-Jake DeBrusk

Danton Heinen-David Backes-Anders Bjork

Chris Wagner-Sean Kuraly-Noel Acciari

Zdeno Chara-Charlie McAvoy

John Moore-Brandon Carlo

Matt Grzelcyk-Kevan Miller

Jaroslav Halak

Tuukka Rask