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Oilers Embracing Extra Practice Time With COVID-19 Interruption

With the Edmonton Oilers sitting idle in Montreal due to a COVID shutdown of the Canadiens, the Oilers have gotten in their most practice time since training camp back in January. After Monday night’s game was postponed due to COVID concerns with the Canadiens, the Oilers skated on Tuesday at Bell Centre awaiting further instruction.

Later on Tuesday night, the NHL announced that all three games in the series would be postponed. The Canadiens, who added Joel Armia and Jesperi Kotkaniemi to the COVID-19 Protocol List on Monday afternoon, were shutdown through Sunday.

The Oilers practiced again in Montreal on Wednesday, and are slated to do so today as well.

“Lots of scrimmage today,” Head Coach Dave Tippett said after Wednesday’s skate. “We did a few drills then had a couple of periods of scrimmage. We played a little 3-on-3. The players like to play. It’s a little bit different but we do have some practice time and there are things we want to work on but we also got to be cognizant of keeping them fresh-minded. We got out there, played a little bit.”

Edmonton has been one of the few teams in the NHL whose schedule, until a few days ago, had not been impacted by COVID-19. They started the season on opening night, and have been in a mad sprint for roughly nine weeks.

The break in the action, which sees them play four games in 14 days, allows them to rest up, recharge and have a little fun.

“They had some fun playing against each other,” Tippett continued. “Mike Smith gave up two bad goals and pulled himself already (laughing). It was a good day.”

In addition to fun and rest, the Oilers are able to get to work and fine-tune their game.

“It’s been a lot of games. We haven’t had a lot of time to get some good practices in,” defenseman Adam Larsson said on Wednesday. “This time of the year, I think we can get a lot of things done in these couple of practice days we got here. Obviously, we want to play games, so this is an unfortunate event that happened with the Montreal players. But practice is good for us right now, I think.”

The Oilers hope they can learn enough in these practice days to keep the good times rolling. They’ll need their rest and their fine-tuned game as they chase the North Division crown down the stretch.

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