EDMONTON, AB - The schedule was stacked.
After playing 14 games in 30 days during the month of November before 12 games in 23 days prior to the Christmas break this month, Head Coach Dave Tippett is looking forward to more practice time and a chance to recoup with a lighter workload.
The Oilers have nine games in 31 days in January, with the club's bye week leading into the NHL All-Star break.
"Our staff has talked about it the last couple of weeks about getting back to getting some rest, getting some good practice, and getting that focus in place."
A pacey and intense skate on Saturday afternoon, for the bench boss, was the start of that.
Practice time has been scarce for Tippett and his coaching staff both out of reluctance and necessity in order to balance not wanting to run his players too hard and performance over the jam-packed stretch.
"Today was the best practice we've had in six weeks I think, and that's on the coaches," Tippett added. "But it's also a little bit of our schedule dictating that kind of stuff where you're not driving people into the ice."
Video: RAW | Dave Tippett 12.28.19
The Oilers placed forward Markus Granlund and defenceman Brandon Manning on waivers on Saturday morning in the first of what could be a string of roster moves that will play out following tonight's contest down south in the AHL between the Bakersfield Condors and Stockton Heat.
"The call-ups we'll decide after the Bakersfield game tonight," Tippett said.
Josh Archibald wasn't present at this morning's practice after taking a puck to the inside of the knee in Friday's 5-1 defeat to the Calgary Flames, but Tippett says the forward "should be fine" for a New Year's Eve clash with the New York Rangers on Tuesday.
Defenceman Matt Benning took part in the practice, albeit in a non-contact state, but continues to make strides towards a return from a concussion sustained on December 1 against the Vancouver Canucks.