SUN Hockey Pool

Help! I've fallen and ...

TERRY JONES, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 9:22 AM ET

What does Pat Quinn do now? Cancel Christmas?

Maybe owner Daryl Katz should contact Peter Pocklington and ask him if he'd like to take another try at trading the entire Edmonton Oilers team for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

You'd think the humiliation and embarrassment of having managed to wake up in last place in the NHL Western Conference yesterday morning would have produced some pride.

Not a 7-2 loss to the supposedly equally brutal St. Louis Blues.

You'd figure that just being involved in a game being billed as the Battle of the Basement, would have fuelled some fire.

INSPIRATION

You'd figure they might even have found some inspiration from the team on the other side of the ice. Last year, the Blues went from 15th in mid-January -- dead last in the Western Conference -- to sixth on the last day of the regular season to end up in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

To put a twist on Quinn's quote about Patrick O'Sullivan, it's was like they don't read the standings. Or care.

After losing the last home game before Christmas by five goals to St. Loo, the Edmonton Oilers are now certified cellar dwellers.

Just like their AHL farm team, the Springfield Falcons.

Just like their ECHL farm team, the Stockton Thunder.

Just like the junior team they own, the Edmonton Oil Kings, who actually are four points out of last place but with the last-place team having four games in hand.

To lose by five goals to St. Louis against a team which played the night before in Vancouver is about as low as you can go.

After winning five straight on the road, they've now lost four straight at home -- six straight going back before the road trip.

Edmonton fans haven't seen a win here since they beat Phoenix here before the Grey Cup.

But last night was likely the time and place the fans of this franchise lost hope. Which is way ahead of schedule.

With 34 points in the standings and Game 41 of the 82 game schedule on New Years Eve in Calgary, this is a team which would need to play .667 hockey the rest of the way to make the playoffs.

If you took a vote among the season ticket holders, that's about the percentage of them who would suggest it would be a good idea if they tanked the rest of the season (like they have to try?), stay in last place, get a top draft pick and give themselves a future better than hoping to make it into eighth place every year.

What do you say after a game like that?

"We haven't had a loss this bad in a long while," said Tom Gilbert.

"Tonight was pretty sloppy."

Captain Ethan Moreau said "we got killed tonight" but otherwise tried to paint it up with positives.

Seven to two is seven to two.

"We started out not bad but we lost some spirit there," said Quinn.

"When it was 2-2 and we were outshooting them (17-7) I thought we were OK. But we weren't OK. The discouraging part is we missed so much down low," he said of giving away chances three feet in front of the net.

He said when the going gets tough this team gets running around like pee wee players.

"We follow the puck. That's what kids do. They follow the puck with their eyes and with their bodies."

There are those who will want to blame injuries to Ales Hemsky and Nikolai Khabibulin and the other 200-plus man-games the Oilers have lost to injuries and the flu.

VALID

And that's valid for losing to Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals. But not the equally brutal St. Louis Blues.

And there are those who will want to hang this on Devan Dubnyk starting his first NHL game.

"If you're Devan, you're going to remember this game for a long time. We couldn't kill a penalty. We gave up our structure and our game plan. We stopped playing. When it doesn't go the way you want it to go ...

"That happens in life all the time ...

"When things are tough, you go to your system. The greatest armies in the world turtle once in a while and then come back."

Quinn essentially was throwing his arms in the air.

"We're not there," he said. "We've got some growing to do. We've got to take it on ourselves to do something about it."

Your move Mr. Tambellini.

Oh, yeah. He can't make a move. The Christmas trade freeze has already kicked in.

TERRY.JONES@SUNMEDIA.CA


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