Rush can taste playoffs

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:45 AM ET

SAN JOSE -- It's a mouth-watering scenario - one the Edmonton Rush could not have scripted better themselves.

Despite Saturday's 9-8 loss here to the San Jose Stealth, the Rush can still set up a one-game, winner-take-all showdown with the Calgary Roughnecks for the final playoff spot in the National Lacrosse League's West Division.

How fitting would that be?

"We can't ask for anything more than to have a chance to continue to fight for a playoff spot," said Rush head coach and general manager Paul Day. "We have to win our next two games."

After the dust settled following play on the weekend, the Stealth clinched the third playoff spot in the West with the victory over Edmonton.

Meanwhile, the Roughnecks occupy the fourth and final spot, failing to clinch a post-season berth thanks to a 13-12 loss to the Rush on Friday.

Edmonton sits a game back, on the outside looking in with a 6-8 record.

"(Rush forward) Jamey Bowen spoke about it after last season," said Day.

"We wanted a game in April this season to mean something. It's going to be in our home building, which is great because we have four wins there."

Calgary wraps up the season with a trip to Arizona on Friday to face the Sting, then plays in Edmonton the following night.

The Rush, meanwhile, travel to Portland to face the LumberJax on Friday before returning home to host the Roughnecks.

Depending on what happens between the Sting and the Roughnecks, the Rush may need to beat the LumberJax in order to set up the winner-take-all scenario at Rexall Place.

"We have to beat Portland to stay in the fight," Day said.

"It's pretty easy for us not to look past Portland at Calgary. We have to beat Portland to have an opportunity."

The LumberJax are out of the playoff hunt and are playing for pride. But the Rush know better than to expect Portland to lie down without putting up a fight.

A loss to the LumberJax combined with a win by the Roughnecks in Arizona would eliminate the Rush from playoff contention and render Saturday's game meaningless.

A win over Portland, however, would set up the most important game in Rush franchise history. And it would be in the friendly confines of Rexall, where they're 4-3 this season.

"One of our goals this year was to be better than .500 at home, so this is a great opportunity for us," Day said.

"We're a young franchise and we're hoping to get some support at home because we haven't been there in a while."

The Rush have not played a home game since beating the Toronto Rock on March 16. By the time they step on the floor to host the Roughnecks it will be nearly a month since they played in Edmonton.

Friday's game in Portland will be the sixth consecutive game on the road for the Rush. They're 2-3 since embarking on the trek, with big consecutive wins in Chicago and Calgary, marking the first time Edmonton had ever won consecutive games.

"There are 16 games in the NLL and it's playoffs every week, right from Day 1," Day said.

"We've been playing like that all year and it's good to go into this weekend, knowing we can win two in a row - we just did it and they were both on the road.

"We just need to win that first one in Portland and take it from there."


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