Oilers’ Brodziak will be healthy scratch vs. Bruins


Vancouver Canucks defenceman Ashton Sautner (59) fights for control of the puck with Edmonton Oilers centre Kyle Brodziak (28) as Vancouver Canucks goaltender Anders Nilsson (31) looks on during first period NHL pre-season action at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, Tuesday, Sept, 18, 2018. (Jonathan Hayward/CP)

BOSTON — Just two games into the new season, free agent signing Kyle Brodziak will be a healthy scratch for the Edmonton Oilers Thursday night in Boston.

“Not the best case scenario, obviously,” admitted the 34-year-old veteran Brodziak. He lost a key faceoff that led directly to a New Jersey power-play goal on Saturday, and was on the ice for two even-strength goals against in a 5-2 loss in Sweden. “I wish I’d have had a better game and a better start.”

Jujhar Khaira takes over Brodziak’s spot at 4C between Zack Kassian and Tobias Rieder, while left-winger Drake Caggiula draws into the lineup on the third line with Ryan Strome and right wing Jesse Puljujarvi.

Only Wednesday, head coach Todd McLellan made it clear: “We need more from our third and fourth lines.” As of today, every one of those players is officially on “on notice.”

“There are a number of players who are on notice. Who’ve been given an opportunity to turn their performances around from what we saw in Sweden,” he said after an optional morning skate at the TD Garden. “Tonight would be a good night to establish yourself in the lineup as a consistent player, rather than being a bit of an anchor, if you will. We’ll see how they play.”

Brodziak has been a slow starter throughout his 848-game NHL career. He’s also been healthy-scratched before, in both Minnesota and St. Louis, but this wasn’t supposed to happen here. Not this quickly.

“You don’t ever want to accept it, but it’s part (of hockey),” he said. “I know I need to be better; I know where my game needs to be. I’m not playing up to my personal standards right now. All I’ve got to focus on is making sure I get there.”

McLellan is sending a message that another slow start to the season won’t be met with patience. There isn’t a coach or player here who doesn’t value getting through a difficult opening 10 games with their heads above water after what happened to the Oilers last season.

“It’s easy to say, ‘Aw, we have 81 (games) left,’” Milan Lucic said on Wednesday. “But we kept doing that last year: ‘It’s OK, we have 60 games left.’ ‘It’s all right, we have 55 left.’ Then, all of the sudden it was like, ‘Whoa, we’ve got 40 games left and we’re completely out of the mix here…’”

The top two lines and defence will remain the same on Thursday. Cam Talbot gets the start in goal.

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