Oilers in basement battle

The Oilers face a Blue Jackets team that has been playing well of late. (Codie McLachlan/QMI Agency)

The Oilers face a Blue Jackets team that has been playing well of late. (Codie McLachlan/QMI Agency)

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:52 PM ET

EDMONTON - This is not one of those games you circle on the calendar.

It’s one of the games you black out with a Sharpie. Pretend it isn’t happening.

But they have to play them all, so 29 vs 30 will go ahead as scheduled tonight when the second-worst team in the NHL hosts the worst.

What’s at stake when the Edmonton Oilers play the Columbus Blue Jackets?

Nothing tangible, really. Just some temporary mental relief from a pair of teams that desperately need it.

After all, somebody has to win.

And somebody has to suffer the indignity of losing to one of the few teams in the NHL that’s as bad as they are.

The Oilers, needless to say, are hoping it’s not them.

“We don’t want to lose to a 30th place team,” Oilers winger Taylor Hall said at the club’s morning skate. “We want to show that we’re a lot better than our record suggests. We want to show that we do have a lot of drive and effort in this room and we’re not going to settle for losing to teams that are worse than us.

“We don’t want to be a 30th place team. Even though we’re 29th we don’t want to fall into their position at all.”

The Blue Jackets, despite being eight points back of Edmonton with a 22-40-7 record are actually going reasonably well lately. They won four in a row before losing a back-to-back set with the powerful St. Louis Blues.

The Oilers have lost eight of their last nine at home.

“Everybody wants to win, so it’s been a frustrating time for us lately,” said defenceman Corey Potter. “We can’t sit back and wait for things to happen tonight.”

After being chewed out by their coach after Monday's loss to San Jose, the Oilers met as a group Tuesday to try and set things right. We’ll soon see the effect of all that naval gazing.

“It’s hard to play when you’re not focusing on the right things and you’re negative all the time,” said Sam Gagner. “The last couple of days have been huge for us in terms of our morale as a group. We’ve had a lot of conversation and hopefully it helps us get a win tonight.”

LATE HITS... Defenceman Theo Peckham will draw back in after missing the last two games as a healthy scratch and Devan Dubnyk will start his second game in a row... Teemu Hartikainen, recalled from Oklahoma City after Ben Eager came down with back spasms, might play if he gets to Edmonton fast enough.

Follow me on TWITTER.com/SUN_TYCHKOWSKI


Videos

Photos