The rest of the world might consider the last 18 games of the Edmonton Oilers season to be garbage time, just a much longer version of the final few minutes in a game that has already been decided, but for some of them, these might be the most important 18 games of their lives.For a 26-year-old rookie like Josh Currie, finally getting his first chance in the NHL, or 24-year-old Colby Cave, who needs to make the most of his second, this is prime time.They, like the rest of their teammates, are still holding out hope that Edmonton can rally into a wild card spot, but there are also careers to be launched during this stretch, so wherever the Oilers finish, it’s going to be the journey that counts.With the Oilers mathematically alive and not giving up until the magic number puts a fork in them, this isn’t simply an audition period, it’s still about winning. So when they play a part in getting two points, it does wonders for their confidence.“It’s more what it does for their careers,” said head coach Ken Hitchcock, after Cave scored a goal and Currie added two assists in the 4-2 decision over Ottawa. “Every day they’re with us they’re proving that they belong for a look. They’re not surviving up here, they’re helping. That’s a really good sign.“To me, Cave is getting better, you can see daily improvement. And the composure Currie has is really helping a lot. I don’t know where we’d be without the addition of these couple of guys.”The Oilers are 3-1-2 in the six games since Currie joined the fight, which is part coincidence and maybe part not coincidence. Either way, nothing makes a player more accepted in a dressing room than working hard and helping win, so they are making some very good first impressions.“It’s great,” said Sam Gagner. “I think regardless of the goals they’re playing great hockey. They’re both really smart players, tenacious on the puck and they’re doing little things for us that sometimes go unnoticed. When you see guys like that play the way they’re playing it gives your a lot of juice.”A veteran of 239 American League games, Cave has only played 38 in the show (20 of them in Boston this year before the Bruins closed the book on him and 15 in Edmonton), so it’s not like he’s been tripping over opportunities. He, like Currie, was never drafted and also got here the hard way, jumping from the Swift Current Broncos to Providence in the AHL for three years.“I’m just trying to help the team make the playoffs, that’s everyone’s goal in here,” said the 24-year-old centre. “From the top of the lineup down to guys like me.”Hockey is always a business first, but rest assured their teammates are well aware of their stories and are hoping these guys make the most of this.“You look at what Curr’s gone through, a long time in the East Coast League, then the American League, and now here,” said Gagner. “At his age, it’s a testament to being persistent.“And Caver has come in here and played great hockey; he’s a really great two way player who does a lot of things away from the puck. You’re happy for those guys, sometimes it’s a long road to get to where they’re at.”Gagner is one of those guys, too, actually, only in a much different way. He has 784 NHL games under his belt at 29 years of age, but is trying to fight his way back into the big leagues after spending most of this season in the AHL.With three goals in his last five games, it’s going pretty good so far.“Everyone has a different journey and when you get here you do your best to stay and be the best version of yourself and help your team win,” he said. “Everyone has a different career arc, you just come in and do your best.”Hitchcock isn’t in a position to be cheering for anybody. He has to coach based on performance, but the human side of him is absolutely hoping for some fairy tale endings.“You want them to do well because they’re such good people,” he said. “You always have a soft spot as a coach, these guys have come up through the Coast, not the American league.“A lot of guys helped get them this far, so you have to be really happy for all the coaches who worked with them and all they’ve accomplished, but man, they look like players right now.”Follow me on firstname.lastname@example.orgOil Spills podcast:The Edmonton Oilers did not make a deal on trade deadline, deciding to keep the roster intact as they desperately try to get back in the playoff race. Hockey reporters Derek Van Diest and Jim Matheson discuss whether that was the best course of action for the Oilers and whether making a trade before the deadline is really worth it.Subscribe to the podcast via iTunes, Google Play or Soundcloud. You can also listen via the player below.