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Oilers go hard to prepare for big two-game trip

The Oilers held a full practice Tuesday in preparation of an important two-game California swing

by Paul Gazzola /

After suiting up for 11 games in 19 days, the Oilers will play two in nine nights.

The upcoming intermission in the schedule due to the NHL All-Star break has the team prepping for their two-game California slide by going hard at practice, as they did on Tuesday.

"Anytime you get a day and a half or two days like [Head] Coach [Todd McLellan] gave, you kind of expect that kind of practice or workday to kind of get the system back going," said Oilers centre Mark Letestu. "Especially get up and down the ice with the skating which we know in the next little while here with Anaheim and San Jose coming, it's going to be really important."

The Oilers will matchup against the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday and San Jose Sharks Thursday - two teams they've been jostling with all season for top spot in the Pacific Division. The Oilers are third in the Pacific with 60 points, trailing the first-place Ducks by three ticks and the second-place Sharks by two points.

"It's just a way of preparing us, getting ready for the next couple of games here."

The mandate in the upcoming back-to-back jaunt is to put the team in a favourable situation in the standings. The club also wants to prove that they can win in difficult road buildings, such as the Honda Center in Anaheim and SAP Center in San Jose.

"Part of it is we want to get in the best position for playoffs as possible," said Letestu. "We want to catch the teams in front of us. But I think also going forward, we're going to have to win games in those buildings in playoffs if we want to be successful. So, to have success there, give us that confidence that we can go out to in those tough buildings and play good games, play solid games and beat them there can only go a long way towards where we want to be."

The Oilers are 26-15-8 this season and 13-7-5 on the road. The club is 7-2-1 in their last 10 games played and boast a plus-13 goal differential. 

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