Oilers-Avalanche the Sewer Series

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:44 PM ET

It’s the last chance not to finish last.

Or the Larrson-Landeskog Bowl.

Whatever you call it, if the Edmonton Oilers want to end up with either one or the other of the most-prized picks in the NHL Entry Draft, all they probably have to do now is not win this next one.

No problem for the injury-decimated Oilers? Not with with only 11 starters left on the active roster who were there at the start of the season? Not to mention all of the Oklahoma City Barons parachuted in during the last 72 hours?

In truth, this one may be the most difficult game of the entire season to actually lose.

The 29th place-and-dropping-like-a-rock Colorado Avalanche, showing no interest in competing during a loss to the Flames in Calgary Thursday, have only managed to beat one team — the St. Louis Blues — in the last 61 days.

In fairness to the Avs, they beat ’em twice, however. Colorado has lost 20 of their last 21.

How bad are they?

The Avalanche lost their last two games to the Oilers. Both at home. Both by 5-1 scores.

Erik Johnson is hobbled. Their captain Adam Foote is now out. And that’s with their man games lost due to injury now pushing the 400 mark — double that of the injury-riddled Oilers.

Their goaltending now qualifies as the worst in the league. The Av-nots have not allowed fewer than three goals in each game that Peter Budaj has started since Nov. 12.

It goes on and on.

And there’s growing evidence that both Colorado and Edmonton have six-foot-three defenceman Adam Larrson and six-foot Gabriel Landeskog ranked 1-2, but both lust for Larrson most to fit specific team needs.

What we’re dealing with here are two teams who have every reason to believe they might not win another game this season if they weren’t scheduled to play each other on the second game of the Hockey Night In Canada double header.

The Ottawa Senators won Thursday to go six points up on the Oilers.

Colorado comes into Rexall Place with their plungers prepared for the Toilet Bowl, the Battle of the Basement, the second-last game of the Sewer Series (Game 82 is Edmonton at Colorado) still somehow five points up on the Oil Spill. Win this one and Colorado would have a seven-point bulge on the Oilers with Edmonton having 10 games to play.

The trouble here, if the way Oilers coach Tom Renney and the team on training wheels took their latest loss Thursday against Phoenix so hard, is they got up Friday morning and came to the rink and made it quite clear they are damned determined to win this one.

And, damn the draft, you get the feeling the fans want them to win it for themselves, too.

“We don’t want to finish dead last,” explained goaltender Devan Dubnyk.

He said setting a goal of not finishing last and trying to get one more point (they need four wins) than this team finished up with last year is all they have to use now beyond the cliches of playing for pride and trying to be a spoiler, etc..

“We need to take these little things and use them for motivation and goals,” he said.

“We’ve got too much pride to think about finishing 30th for a second year in a row,” said Ryan Jones.

The Oilers active leading goal scorer, with 17, who may also be the active leader on the team right now, admits when the season ends there are the teams who made the playoffs and the teams who didn’t and that’s the bottom line. Except for 30th.

“You look around and everybody says you’re the last place team in the entire league. The number doesn’t hurt as much as the words ‘last place.’ ”

Rookie Jordan Eberle said the Oilers remain a bunch of guys in a dressing room still wanting to play for each other.

“We want to win hockey games,” he said.

“It’s that simple. The guys are pissed off with losing.”

But Adam Larrson ...

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terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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