The Canucks will be playing their first game since March 24 after having several players in COVID protocol. On Wednesday, the number of players on that list dropped from 16 to seven.
They didn’t have a full practice on Wednesday, but the Oilers expect the game to go ahead.
“We’re preparing for this game to happen. I think we’re going to play,” said centre Leon Draisaitl. “I’m sure the NHL knows what they’re going. They’ve done a great job so far. If it was not safe, then we wouldn’t play on Friday. I’m sure it’s safe.”
“We’re anticipating it’s on until we hear different. Our travel plans and our practice schedule has been set up that we’re going. I haven’t heard any different,” said head coach Dave Tippett. “Right now, we’re scheduled to go there tomorrow afternoon.”
Canucks forward J.T. Miller said he’s worried about the health of his teammates and his families.
“It’s kind of frustrating, if I’m being 100 per cent honest with you. We’ve tried to talk about the number one priority is players’ health and their families’ safety. It’s impossible to do that with what they’ve asked us to do here on our return,” said Miller.
“It’s going to be very challenging and not very safe, if you’re asking me.”
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With a record of 25-15-2, the Oilers are third in the North Division and firmly entrenched in a playoff spot. The website sportsclubstats.com gives them a 99.6 per cent chance of making the post-season.
“I don’t see an X on the left of our team yet,” said Draisaitl. “We’re going to try to bank points, improve and get better, and win hockey games.”
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins once again didn’t take part in the Oilers practice on Wednesday. He also sat out the Oilers last two games with an upper body injury.
“He’s still up in the air a little bit. He skated again this morning on his own,” said Tippett. “He’s waiting for some clearance from the doctors. He skated for about 45 minutes this morning. We’ll see where he gets tomorrow.”