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A timely break for the Edmonton Oilers

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Photo credit:Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Robin Brownlee
2 months ago
If you’re one of those people who believe in momentum, you’re probably not thrilled with the Edmonton Oilers having a five-day break between games when they’re playing their best hockey with a four-game winning streak on the go. Fair enough.
On the flip side, there’s something to be said for the players getting this break to rest and heal 22 games into the schedule when they’ve been scrambling out of the 3-9-1 hole they dug themselves through 13 games. With the Oilers now 9-12-1, Kris Knoblauch also has an opportunity to do some coaching that’s not on the fly.
The Oilers play six straight games at home, starting with Carolina on Wednesday, between now and December 16 against Florida. The results they get in these next half-dozen games will go a long way in determining whether they continue the climb toward playoff contention they’ve started, run in place or fall back again.
So, momentum-killer or a timely break?

WHAT THEY SAY

Nov 13, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers Head Coach Kris Knoblauch looks on against the New York Islanders at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
“Good and bad,” Knoblauch said after the team skated Sunday. “I think the bad part of it is it can kill the momentum. The guys were feeling really well about themselves. It’s much more enjoyable coming to the rink every day when you’re winning. 
“More importantly, I think his break is good for us because we have a lot of guys who were on the brink of breaking down physically. We had a lot of guys who were nursing things and could use a couple days off, so in that aspect, overall, it should be good for us.”
The Oilers have gone 6-3-0 under Knoblauch since he took over from Jay Woodcroft, but there hasn’t been an abundance of time to do much more than get introductions out of the way.
“It’ll give me an opportunity to catch up with the players,” he said. “Now that we’ve had some games I’ve got to see what they’re like as players, what they contribute, what they can maybe work on. I can meet with them and give them some meaningful interaction, feedback.
“Before, I was just talking to them, getting to know them . . . now, I think I’ve got a little more substantial information to give them, share with them what they can provide for our team, how they can get better. It gives me that opportunity. When we’re playing every second day it’s pretty tough to do that.”

MAKING IT COUNT

Connor McDavid was playing his best hockey of this season just before this break. He had 14 points in his last five games after struggling to bounce back from a lower-body injury that kept him out of two games. McDavid was inducted into the Walk of Fame in Toronto Saturday. He was back for Sunday’s skate.
“It’s just nice to get away,” said McDavid, who has put his slow start in the rear-view mirror with a highlight reel stretch of games. “For me, it’s always nice just to be at home, unwind, take the dog for a walk, something like that.”
Workhorse blue liner Darnell Nurse, who is averaging 22:40 of ice time per game so far, and Evander Kane didn’t skate with the team Sunday. We’ll see about today. Breaks like this don’t come along very often in the course of a season.
“We’re going to use it the best way we can,” McDavid said. “That’s obviously to rest and make sure that we come out of the break flying. That’s all we can really do at this point, just prepare for the next one . . . it’s an important stretch for us.”

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