Crowning the NHL's Biggest Loser

Captains Ethan Moreau and Jarome Iginla lead struggling squads into tonight's Battle of Alberta in...

Captains Ethan Moreau and Jarome Iginla lead struggling squads into tonight's Battle of Alberta in Calgary. (File photos)

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:56 PM ET

CALGARY — Every so often we are lucky enough to witness a game of such magnitude and enormity that it needs no introduction.

No hype.

A game that defines a generation.

A game that writes itself.

The kind of game that 20 years from now will have people puffing out their chests, pulling out their weathered ticket stubs and saying “I was there.”

Saturday is that game.

The Oilers on a 12-game losing streak. The Flames on a nine-game losing streak.

The Cattle of Alberta.

Forget about War Admiral vs. Seabiscuit. This is a match race straight out of the history books.

This is the 1974-75 Washington Capitals versus Greg Norman in the final round of the 1996 Masters.

The 2008 Detroit Lions vs Bill Buckner.

Pepsi Clear vs the XFL.

Olympic Stadium vs the DeLorean.

In the last game of Hockey Day in Canada, on Hockey Night in Canada, we get the kind of epic moment that never lets you forget where you were when it happened - like the Elvis assassination or Zidane head butting that dude in the chest.

“It’s definitely going to be a desperate hockey game for both teams,” said Oilers winger Gilbert Brule. “I think we have to come out and set the tone right off the first shift.”

The Oilers, who cancelled practice Friday (Hey, they’re only playing the Flames), know what’s at stake. Forget about fat guys on reality show treadmills. The Biggest Loser is crowned Saturday.

“The situation we’re in is not fun for anybody,” said Sam Gagner. “We have a lot of pride in here and the way things have gone lately it doesn’t sit well with anybody. I’m sure you can say the same thing about Calgary. It’s been hard on both teams. Something that we both want to get out of. It should be an intense battle.”

The Flames, who also called off their skate on Friday (Hey, they’re only playing the Oilers), definitely have more to lose.

As bad as it is in Edmonton, it’s worse there.

The Oilers have been crappy for years; this season is just another degree of that crappiness. But the Flames? They not supposed to start sucking until the playoffs.

Kiprusoff, Iginla, Bouwmeester, Phaneuf. A Sutter for a coach and another Sutter for a GM.

Flu shots in every arm.

And they’ve lost nine in a row? Might even miss the post-season.

Wow.

How sweet would that be in the Oilers room, knowing they played a small part in Calgary’s misery.

“That would be a good feeling,” said Gagner.

“To go into their building on Saturday night and win a big game and add to their troubles would be a big success for us,” added Andrew Cogliano.

In the end, it doesn’t matter who wins. We all know where the Oilers will finish this season and we all know how deep the Flames are going in the playoffs - 30th and not very.

It matters who loses.

For all that’s gone wrong for either side, there is nothing worse, nothing more humbling and depressing, than losing this Battle of the Blands.

How it plays out is anyone’s guess. Two teams playing not to lose? No, that would be like two zebras playing not to be striped.

This will be an bitter struggle between two long, bitter rivals who’ve forgotten how to win and can’t afford to lose.

You can’t script this stuff.

“Don’t be afraid to lose,” associate coach Tom Renney advised his team. “Go out and play, that’s the bottom line. Mistakes get made in this game, that’s what makes it such a great game. Your ability to play within the spontaneity of that helps define you and separate you from a lot of other teams in this league.

“We have to go there to win. Just throw it against the wall and see what sticks. Just go play our hearts out and start to earn some self respect.”


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