The Edmonton Oilers have been off since last Saturday night when they dropped a 5-0 decision to the Calgary Flames on an emotional day. They are slated to play the Vancouver Canucks on Friday night at Rogers Arena, but more likely than not will need to wait another day before returning to game action.
According to reports, the NHL is once again considering postponing the Canucks ‘Return to Play’. If that is in fact the case, it would be the fourth time an Oilers game against the Canucks has been postponed in recent weeks.
Sportsnet’s John Shannon reported on Thursday morning that, while nothing is official, the Canucks’ weekend games “might change again” based on medical evaluations.
The Canucks last played a game on March 24th, a 5-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets. In the days that followed, the Canucks were riddled with COVID-19 and dealt with a dangerous variant of the disease. It’s been an uncertain, dangerous and challenging time for the Canucks organization.
In fact, the Canucks returned to the ice for the first time yesterday in preparation for Friday’s game against the Oilers. The team clearly does not feel, after nearly a month off, that two days on the ice is enough to prepare for the grind that awaits.
“I don’t really feel ready at all, to be totally honest,” Canucks forward J.T. Miller told reporters on Wednesday. “It’s dangerous to a lot of our players. Brutally honest, we’re going to need more time to come back from this to play hockey. Even for the guys who didn’t get it, we’re not ready to play.”
While the Canucks clearly, and quite understandably, don’t feel ready to play, the Oilers are ready and waiting. While they know another schedule change could be coming in the next few hours, they are fully prepared for whatever comes their way.
“We’re anticipating it’s on until we hear different,” Head Coach Dave Tippett said on Wednesday. “Our travel plans, our practice schedule and everything have been set up that we’re going. I guess we’ll just have to monitor it day-to-day but right now, we’re scheduled to go there tomorrow afternoon still.”
The hope, from all sides, is that a resolution will be determined before the Oilers depart for Vancouver. After all, the club is slated to play in Winnipeg on Saturday night and likely wants no part of a flight that could be rendered useless at a moment’s notice.
“It is what it is,” Tippett continued. “The schedule has had some quirks this year because of the situation and you just have to deal with the hand that you’re dealt. That’s the hand we’ve been dealt here. It’s not an ideal situation but there are no excuses and you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.
“We’ve got an early game on Friday night, so we get in there (Winnipeg) a little bit earlier than anticipated. And then the game in Winnipeg on Saturday night is not until nine o’clock. So, we’ll have some time in between. You just have to deal with it and focus on what you have to do to win. We’ll be there to play.”
At least, the Oilers will be there to play unless they are told there is no game. Which, in this case, is a very real possibility.