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Oilers plan to relax, recharge during five-day break

Players looking forward to down time before season resumes Feb. 11

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / Staff Writer

EDMONTON -- Connor McDavid is hanging up his skates -- for the next five days.

The Edmonton Oilers captain said he is going to spend a five-day break, which began Sunday following a 1-0 shootout win against the Montreal Canadiens, in the east, "just hanging out and relaxing," but not skating.

Each NHL team has a five-day break during the regular season. The Oilers' time away is this week and they don't play until Feb. 11 at home against the Chicago Blackhawks (10 p.m. ET; CBC, SN, WGN, NHL.TV). All of the Oilers, except McDavid, were off the previous weekend for the 2017 Honda NHL All-Star Game.

"The All-Star break was so short this year, only a few days, and it kind [of] falls so close with our long break that it just feels like another All-Star break, nothing new," McDavid said. "But you've got to keep yourself moving, at least a little bit. You want to refresh but five days is a long time to take off. You want to do some stuff to keep yourself at least feeling good."

Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is headed in the other direction.

"I'm going to go to San Francisco, get a little down time out there with my girlfriend," Nugent-Hopkins said. "I've never been there before. We're just going to hang out for a few days."

Video: EDM@ANA: Nugent-Hopkins goes five-hole from high slot

Nugent-Hopkins said players appreciate some down time in the middle of the regular season.

"For us, we've been playing so well right now, it's not like we really need to take a break and regroup but at the same time, it still might be able to help us refresh our minds and give us a little break before the last push of the season here," he said.

Oilers forward Patrick Maroon is taking advantage of the break to visit his son, Anthony, who lives in St. Louis, but said the timing of the days off following the All-Star break is not ideal.

"I think it's just one of those things where you want to keep playing," he said. "We played four games, then have another five-day break. I wish we could have played for two weeks, to get our feet back underneath us, and then get the break. It's hard. We'll just have to continue what we've been doing and find ways to get back to where we left off."

Rookie forward Drake Caggiula said he's using the break to make up for missing a trip home to the Toronto area for Christmas, but even though he doesn't have to practice or play games, he doesn't expect to spend time sitting around watching TV.

"If you sit around for too long and you're a couch potato, it'll be tough to come back and perform," he said. "So we'll have to make sure we skate a little bit, or work out or bike, be active and try to maintain muscle memory."

Video: EDM@MTL: Talbot blockers away Pacioretty's wrister

Goalie Cam Talbot is looking forward to a change in scenery, and weather, with his break. He has started 49 of the Oilers' 55 games this season and his wife gave birth to twin girls, Sloane and Landon, in October. They are all going to Newport Beach, California.

"We were there last year and it's so relaxing, so we're going back and we're taking the kids and getting them out of the cold for a few days," Talbot said. "It's obviously a long time off to have to come back and play the very next day," he said. "That'll be tough, especially against a team like Chicago.

"We'll be playing a lot of hockey after this break. I guess it might have been nice to have our breaks spread out a bit more, as opposed to only having a week between them, but you'll always be happy to have time to get guys a little more healthy and pumped up a little bit before the stretch run."

Rookie defenseman Matthew Benning, from the Edmonton suburb of St. Albert, is staying home.

"Rest will be good," Benning said. "I'll get out to watch some of my brother's hockey games in St. Albert. I'll just use the time to relax.

"During the All-Star break, a couple of us stayed in California and that was kind of like my break away."

Benning said the time off is welcomed because his entire college season at Northeastern University last season was 41 games.

"I've never had anything like this," he said. "For me, going from playing a college season to all these games here, it will definitely help to get a break and get ready for the next stretch leading to the postseason hopefully. So the rest will be big."

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