Holloway practises with Edmonton Oilers; Yamamoto tests positive for COVID-19

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It’s a slump that’s lasted over a month for the Edmonton Oilers. Since Dec. 3, the team has gone 2-9-2 and dropped from the top of the NHL standings to the middle of the pack.

They were back home Friday for practice, their first time on the ice at Rogers Place since a Dec. 16 win over Columbus. Criticism is flying at the team from all directions, with some fans calling for the firing of head coach Dave Tippett.

“You have to block the outside noise out and concentrate on what’s going on inside here. I would say our attitude’s been pretty good,” Tippett said.

“There’s a push in there. We just have to find a way to make that push into results.”

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“We had the same team when we were on a heater,” said winger Zack Kassian. “There are going to be highs and lows to a season. We can’t have people jumping off the boat because we’ve played a bad month of hockey.

“There are eight months of hockey. We have to stay level-headed here.”

Edmonton Oilers' Kailer Yamamoto in action during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the St. Louis Blues Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021, in St. Louis.

Edmonton Oilers' Kailer Yamamoto in action during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the St. Louis Blues Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021, in St. Louis.

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

The Oilers’ practice started with Kailer Yamamoto leaving the ice. His rapid COVID-19 test came back positive. As a result, Edmonton’s 2020 first round draft pick Dylan Holloway took Yamamoto’s spot on a line with Leon Draisaitl and Warren Foegele.

Holloway, 20, is working his way back from a wrist injury. He could be an option for the Oilers on the wing later in the season.

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“If he goes down to Bakersfield and gets eight or 10 games in, you’ll probably get a pretty good gauge of where he’s at,” Tippett said.

“He has size and talent that look like they’re going to be NHL at some point. It’s just a matter of when.”

Injured forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins won’t be able to skate for about another week. Defenceman William Lagesson will probably skate Saturday after suffering a bruised foot against Toronto on Wednesday. Defenceman Kris Russell practised Friday but is about a week away from playing.

Connor McDavid, Tyson Barrie and Derek Ryan, who all went into COVID-19 protocol earlier this week, will be eligible to play Monday against Ottawa.

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