The Edmonton Oilers have just 14 games remaining in this truncated 2020-21 season. Two of them, against the Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets, will take place this weekend. The Oilers, with the trade deadline behind them and final few games ahead of them, are firmly in the final push now.
Many Oiler fans view GM Ken Holland’s quiet trade deadline day as an opportunity missed. That may end up being the case, but inside the walls at Rogers Place that isn’t the thought process. The Oilers, from the coaches to the players, believe in this group. They believe Holland adding veteran Dmitry Kulikov and letting everything else play out is a sign of confidence in the current group.
“I like our team,” Head Coach Dave Tippett said when asked about the upcoming stretch drive. “Our goal at the start of the year was to continue to improve all the way through and keep building our game. That’s the discussion we had as a group today, that this is our team going forward. We’ve got to continue to build. There are some things that I think we have to improve to secure a playoff spot. If you get a chance to play in the playoffs, you get in there and your game is in order.”
While Edmonton hasn’t yet officially clinched a spot in the postseason, they are almost certainly going to make it. That should allow the group to focus on trying different lineup combinations and system tactics down the stretch.
“We got 14 games left in the regular season and we got to use all 14 of them to make sure we’re improving our game,” Tippett added. “If we earn a playoff spot then hopefully, our team is ready to go. For the most part, I liked the way our guys have pushed to try to improve and pushed to try to become a better team. We’ve done that to this point and now we’ve got to continue it.”
While Tippett focuses on what to improve and change down the stretch, his players are feeling good about themselves. It’s not just because they are going to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, either. The Oilers feel that their GM has given them a massive vote of confidence. They feel that the Oilers believe in them to make a run with this group.
“The organization didn’t do a whole lot of pickups this Trade Deadline so it shows they believe in us and that’s a good sign,” veteran Adam Larsson said on Tuesday. “We’re still 14 games away from playoffs, so a lot can happen. We have to be on our toes. Going into playoffs, anything can happen. We have a big belief in this group in this locker room. We’re feeling good.”
The Oilers will try to keep that good feeling going when they return to the ice Friday night against a weakened Canucks team on the Pacific coast.Read next
Fight of the Day: Michael Nunn vs. Sumbu Kalambay
Date: March 25, 1989 Card: Championship(s): IBF World Middleweight Championship (Nunn) Venue: Las Vegas Hilton Location: Las Vegas, Nevada https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yvx__iveldI