"Be better at home": Oilers want Rogers Place to be a tough stop for visiting teams

As far as scary players go in the NHL, there might not be anyone more intimidating than Oilers veteran Milan Lucic.

The bruising winger's scowl is enough to make even the most grizzled vet look the other way.

But the same can't be said for the atmosphere in the building where the Oilers play.

In hockey terms, Rogers Place is about as soft as it gets for opposing teams.  

Aside from that No. 97 guy, there's not a lot to be intimidated by. 

Oilers fans are often mocked on social media for being too quiet. Rogers Place has been jokingly referred to as a "library" by those who say  the excitement level is mild-mannered at best. 

And the team, well, it hasn't exactly made Edmonton a tough place to play for visitors in recent years.

'Good start'

The players know that needs to change, starting Thursday against the Boston Bruins.

"It all goes to having a good start," the aforementioned Lucic said after the optional morning skate.

"We all know what comes with the season opener and the introductions and that kind of stuff," he said. "Which is great. It's great for the fans, it's great for us players to have all that. But it's just about having a good start and carrying over what we had in that third period in Winnipeg."

Exactly how the Oilers accomplished what they did during the third period and overtime on Tuesday still has some people scratching their heads.  

All but written off, the Oilers clawed their way back win 5-4 over the Jets, a team widely considered a Stanley Cup contender this year. And they pulled it off in one of the toughest arenas in the NHL.

"Home is where you have to find a way to get wins"

Carrying that momentum forward will be key to getting a jump on the Bruins, who are coming off a 5-2 loss at the hands of the Calgary Flames on Wednesday.


"We definitely have to be better at home," said captain Connor McDavid, who led the Oilers in Tuesday's comeback with two power play goals and two assists.

"Home is where you have to find a way to get wins. It's something that we really struggled with all last year."

Last season, the Oilers home record was 19-18-4.

And it's not just up to the players to make it tough for the opposition. The coaching staff, which includes three new assistants behind the bench, is also working to change the team's mindset.


"We all have a job or role to play in our success here at home, and we want to make this a very tough building to play in," said head coach Todd McLellan. "There's been years where it has been, and some other years where it has not. We'd like to write our own chapter with this year's team and make it a difficult spot."

Getting a chance to help establish that tough reputation at Rogers Place will be rookie defenceman Evan Bouchard, who draws back into the lineup for the home opener.

For Bouchard, who turns 19 on Saturday, it will be a night to remember as he plays in his first regular season NHL game in front of a hometown crowd.

"I think every game I come to I'm excited to play, I've got butterflies to play," he said.

The Oilers and the Bruins drop the puck at 7 p.m.