EDMONTON, AB - In a season filled with stops and starts - not just in practice - the Oilers are ready to return to action Saturday by visiting the Winnipeg Jets at Bell MTS Place.
Due to the Vancouver Canucks ongoing situation with COVID-19, the Orange & Blue have been recharging their batteries and sharpening up for the final stretch of the 2020-21 campaign with a six-day break since last Saturday's 5-0 loss to the Calgary Flames.
While the Oilers have been practicing, the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs and Jets have continued to push towards the playoffs. Following the week off, Edmonton rests third in the North Division with 52 points, five back of the Winnipeg Jets, with two games in hand.
Heading into Saturday's Hockey Night in Canada matchup, the Oilers will look to put the fresh legs to good use and hope that the extended break doesn't affect their performance.
Video: RAW | Dave Tippett 04.16.21
"It's nice to have some breaks but at the same time, you want to be in that rhythm and this time of the year, you want to be playing really well and be in a groove going into playoffs," defenceman Tyson Barrie said Friday. "We've got a big, 14 games to finish here so hopefully, we can get into that rhythm and avoid any more interruptions."
The '20-21 season's jam-packed, baseball-style schedule was expected to see very few quiet days but the Oilers have experienced a fair share of them. The club is 0-3-1 this year when playing after having three or more days of rest and was dropped 4-3 in overtime against the Maple Leafs following a five-day hiatus in Montreal.
"No matter what happens, you're always just trying to maximize what you're doing," Oilers Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "It probably gets a little more frustrating the first day or two you get that rest and then you come back and want to get going again. I think our guys will be anxious to play tomorrow but that rhythm of playing every other day, that's the rhythm you want to get into."
Edmonton's offence hasn't dried up from all the pauses, with Oilers Captain Connor McDavid putting up six points when returning from a three-day break, Leon Draisaitl and Tyson Barrie five, and Darnell Nurse adding three goals.
Video: RAW | Tyson Barrie 04.16.21
"At least this time around, we were home," forward Alex Chiasson said. "We all got to spend time with our families, so I think that's been good and just having some nice weather here in Edmonton. We're not stuck in hotel rooms and going from the hotel to the rink.
"From that point of view, mentally, it's felt good. We've also put in some great work this week in practice that we think is going to help us here down the stretch and prepare us for playoffs."
The Oilers won't have time to re-discover their game once the recess ends with playoff implications and a possible post-season berth on the horizon.
"We've talked about this as a group, how there are 14 games left in the season and we want our group to feel good going into the playoffs," Chiasson continued. "Tomorrow is a great test for us. Two teams that kind of play a little bit the same way. They've been on a good roll lately. We're expecting to bring our best as well."