The Edmonton Oilers will play both tonight and tomorrow night in Vancouver against the Canucks. The back-to-back set in British Columbia kicks off a sprint towards the finish line of the 2020-21 regular season. With the Oilers playoff bound, officially as early as tonight, rest will be key for the team down the stretch.
It’s an area of focus for the coaching staff, a staff which understands the importance of health and rest.
“The games, you’ve got to make sure you have the energy to play. We’ll manage our rest with days off,” Head Coach Dave Tippett told reporters on Sunday. “Really, we’ve got limited practice time here. That’s why we want to make sure that we use the games. Every game we go into, we’ll have a purpose of how we want to play and what we want to do to make sure our game is in order. Our preparation right now is to get our team playing as well as we can so we can clinch a playoff spot and go into a playoff series playing well. Those are the things driving us now.”
The Oilers have been playing well since the tenth game of the season. Edmonton started the year 3-6-0, but won a big overtime game over the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game ten. After their slow start, the Oilers have been the best team in the North Division by record, going 27-11-2. They are also 7-2-0 against their likely first round opponent, the Winnipeg Jets.
Regardless, the Oilers will play six games over the next twelve days, with cross-country travel involved.
Edmonton kicks off the stretch with back-to-back games in Vancouver tonight and tomorrow. They’ll host the Canucks on Thursday and Saturday, then travel east to visit the Canadiens on Monday and Wednesday before wrapping up with a game on May 15th against the Canucks at Rogers Place.
“It’s imperative that we get enough rest because you want to play well in the playoffs,” Tippett added. “You do everything to prepare. Prepare your game and what you’re doing on the ice but you also prepare with the thought of making sure you’re healthy as possible and going into the playoffs as fresh as possible.”