The Edmonton Oilers have plenty of reasons to embrace what to expect in the Stanley Cup playoffs in Edmonton’s Hub City, but the feeling is that the center group and the majority of that team have come to camp. with the intention of seizing the opportunity that exists for them here.
It’s halfway between training camp and the start of the world’s biggest indoor show that no one is allowed to watch live and in person – the first game of the Cup’s top five series. Stanley between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Oilers, followed by Game 1 of the Winnipeg Jets series against the Calgary Flames.
So far, good for the Oilers, said Edmonton head coach Dave Tippett. But it feels more like a long version of sessions that teams have Olympic breaks or extended All-Star breaks than a traditional training camp.
“It felt a little different from a regular boot camp,” Tippett said of the program with three consecutive days of practice followed by a day off, when I asked for his mid-term evaluation. course.
“At a regular training camp, you have between 50 and 60 players and you try to teach new things. What we have looked at is a review of our structure of how we play. You must restart the players and resume their full speed. And then you play for a playoff series against an opponent.
The head coach says he couldn’t be happier with the way training camp has gone so far.
Tippett was impressed with the pace at which the Oilers started proceedings and more than impressed with how they embraced everything involved.
“They look like a real motivated group. I like what our leadership has done in the room. They seem very focused on preparing it the right way. ”
It seemed like a good time to talk to Tippett about it.
“I think everyone is talking about opportunity. First, there was the possibility to come back and start the season again. But now you are down to 24 teams and each team has an opportunity. And it’s a unique opportunity.
“It’s not as if you are launching into this reflection, there are teams that have moved away from everyone. It’s not like you think there are teams with a home advantage. The opportunity is much more even than it would normally be in the playoffs.
“I think a lot of teams think that way. I know we feel that. There is an opportunity before us. Can we take this opportunity and run with it? I’m sure there are a lot of other teams saying that but it’s definitely one of the things we talk about with our group.
You can debate whether there is an opportunity as all of the Western Conference teams’ games from start to finish take place in the Oilers arena.
You can try to determine if there will be an advantage on the ice playing all of their games at Rogers Place without fans in the stands, but the opportunity may exist in other areas.
Tippett was asked a few days earlier what he thought it would mean to have Edmonton as Hub City.
“Well, you’re very comfortable with your surroundings, that’s above all. I think one of the most important things is that our players know it’s not a hot spot, “he said of the contrast that so many American teams organize their training camps. in their facilities in their own cities. “Our players are confident to come here every day. I think our doctors and trainers have done an incredible job. And really, the city has done an incredible job of containing the virus as well as possible. Edmonton has been rewarded with this and I think everyone has a belief that everyone can stay healthy and participate in the tournament and finish the season.
“I think the players are proud of the facility here and proud of the city. I don’t think there will be an advantage on the ice at home without the supporters, but everyone is comfortable here and everyone knows how to get to the ice.
It looks like there is an opportunity to open this unique playoff year with a top five streak against Chicago.
There’s no shortage of fans who think it’s wrong to have the Blackhawks in the playoffs, with the team being a seller on the trade deadline (moving goalie Robin Lehner) and being in countdown mode. countdown to mathematical elimination when COVID-19 hit and the entire sports world stopped screaming.
The Blackhawks are in training camp without No.1 goaltender Corey Crawford, who is not qualified to play. Two defenders are also absent from the team most regarded as the defense being their greatest responsibility.
Getting a streak against Chicago that few think the Blackhawks can win can also be an opportunity. The top four teams will play for the classification. The play-in series teams will be involved in the real deal. Winners should advance more prepared to play in a best-of-seven series.
You have to understand that the opportunity may be there too.
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