This afternoon, the Edmonton Oilers will finally conclude their 2020-21 regular season slate as they host the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Place. After that, it’s a trip to the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs and a date with the Winnipeg Jets starting Wednesday night in Edmonton.
Today’s game gives the Oilers one final chance to prepare for what the team hopes is a long and successful playoff run. Even if the game doesn’t mean anything, don’t expect Edmonton to just show up and put no effort in. Don’t expect a skeleton crew to dress either.
“I talked to (McDavid) about whether this is a game he wants to play and he said, ‘I want this game because it’s one game in a week and I want to make sure I’m sharp,” Head Coach Dave Tippett told reporters on Friday when asked why Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl would both dress for the finale.
“We want our players dialed in to make sure they’re at their best come Wednesday night,” Tippett added. “We’ll do everything in our power to make sure that’s the case. (Saturday’s) game is another chance to stay sharp.”
The Oilers have been more than sharp as of late. After two 4-3 overtime victories over the Montreal Canadiens on Monday and Wednesday, the Oilers are now 8-2-0 in their last ten games. They’ve won seven straight on the road for the first time in over 30 years, and stormed up the standings to pass the Jets and clinch the second spot in the North Division.
This is a team that is peaking right as the playoffs are set to begin. Edmonton did the same thing at the end of the 2016-17 season, and used that momentum to win their opening series with the San Jose Sharks.
“We want to continue to have good habits,” Tippett continued. “The game (Saturday), it’s a chance to prepare. Individually prepare or prepare as a team to do things right. Those are all factors that we continue to push.”
The habits Edmonton has right now are more than good. They’ll want to keep those rolling as they hit their final dress rehearsal for the playoffs.