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BLOG: Gearing up for the stretch drive

The Oilers are preparing for the final push of the '20-21 regular season with 14 games remaining on the schedule

by Paul Gazzola /

EDMONTON, AB - Fill up the gas tank, start the engine and go.

Should the Oilers get the green light to face the Vancouver Canucks on Friday, the stretch drive will officially begin.

"The Trade Deadline was on Monday, we got our team in order and now we got 14 games left," Oilers Head Coach Dave Tippett said Wednesday following practice at Rogers Place. "We've used the last couple of days to really dig into some of the stuff that we need to make sure we have in place for the stretch drive."

Video: PRACTICE | Wednesday Work 04.14.21

The Oilers have dealt with detours and road bumps while navigating the '20-21 campaign, experiencing a gruelling five-day pit stop in Montreal and getting another week off due to the COVID-19 situation with the Vancouver Canucks. Despite all the distractions, the Oilers are keen on arriving at their destination, the playoffs, and are in a good position to do so with 52 points over 42 games.

"The schedule has had some quirks this year because of the situation and you just have to deal with the hand that you're dealt," Tippett said. "It's not an ideal situation but there are no excuses and you've got to do what you've got to do."

The Oilers are expected to play 14 games in 28 days starting Friday. The team is slated for five dates with the Vancouver Canucks, four with the Montreal Canadiens, three with the Winnipeg Jets and two with the Calgary Flames. The mandate over the remaining matches is to shift into high gear for when the puck drops on the post-season.

Video: RAW | Leon Draisaitl 04.14.21

"Going into the playoffs, you want to use these last 14 games to, first of all, secure your playoff spot and then make sure you go into the playoffs playing your best hockey," forward Leon Draisaitl, who sits second in National Hockey League scoring with 61 points, said.

"We're obviously looking to do that over the next little stretch here. The playoffs are not something where you can just flip a switch and feel great. You have to earn that. That's what we're looking to do."

The 2020-21 season has been a long, winding road but Tippett is convinced it will be completed and the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs will go as planned. "There have been some challenges during the year for the League to reschedule some things but for the most part, it's pushed ahead," said the coach.

"We're close enough to the finish line now."

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