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Oilers envious of Avalanche's quick turnaround

by Derek Van Diest

EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Oilers are going into their game against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday with a bit of envy.

The Avalanche are where the Oilers hoped they would be this season.

A year ago Colorado was at the bottom of the NHL standings and selected first at the 2013 NHL Draft.

This season the Avalanche are going to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and the Oilers, with three No. 1 picks on their roster, are heading back to the draft lottery.

"They built the same way we did as far as through the draft," Oilers right wing Jordan Eberle said. "They have a lot of young guys and they've been able to put it together as far as the wins go. When I look at that I'm for sure jealous. They're going to be in the playoffs and we're not. That being said, it's just another game [Tuesday] where we want to beat them and show we can play with them. They somehow found a way to do it and we have to do that."

The Avalanche have secured a playoff spot and are trying to earn home-ice advantage in the First Round. They enter the game second in the Central Division, two points ahead of the third-place Chicago Blackhawks.

"Since Patrick [Roy, coach] came along, there was a big change over there," Oilers right wing David Perron said. "They had a lot of pieces even before he got there and they put it all together. It's interesting to see how good of a job he did there, and it's obviously a team that we strive to become as successful as them."

Hired by the Avalanche in the offseason, Roy and his staff were able to change the culture of a losing team in Colorado. Adding top pick Nathan MacKinnon to a roster that already featured a number of strong offensive players, Roy was able to get the players all pulling in the same direction.

"That's a great analogy," Avalanche center Paul Stastny said. "It's a different mentality just from the start of training camp. I give a lot of credit to management and coaching staff. Pat has done a good job of letting us forget about what happened in the past and never bringing that [losing] feeling back. It was a fresh start and we're always looking forward."

The Avalanche started 14-2-0 and have been riding that momentum all season. They enter Tuesday one game after their six-game winning streak was snapped in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday. The Oilers go into the game on a two-game win streak, the first time they've won consecutive games since March 16-18.

"They've done a great job there, made a big swing and put themselves in a nice spot, and are in a hell of a roll as well that will sharpen your teeth for the playoffs," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "I think there are a lot of lessons to be learned there."

Goaltender Ben Scrivens will start for the Oilers; Jean-Sebastien Giguere will start for the Avalanche.

Here are the projected lineups:


Taylor Hall - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle

Anton Lander - Sam Gagner - David Perron

Ryan Smyth - Boyd Gordon - Steven Pinizzotto

Matt Hendricks - Will Acton - Philip Larsen

Martin Marincin - Jeff Petry

Oscar Klefbom - Justin Schultz

Mark Fraser - Anton Belov

Ben Scrivens

Viktor Fasth

Injured: Jesse Joensuu (ankle), Luke Gazdic (shoulder), Andrew Ference (chest), Ryan Jones (knee), Nail Yakupov (shoulder), Tyler Pitlick (knee)


Gabriel Landeskog - Paul Stastny - John Mitchell

Ryan O'Reilly - Nathan MacKinnon - Jamie McGinn

Patrick Bordeleau - Marc-Andre Cliche - Maxime Talbot

Ryan Wilson - Brad Malone - Paul Carey

Jan Hejda - Erik Johnson

Andre Benoit - Nate Guenin

Nick Holden - Tyson Barrie

Jean-Sebastien Giguere

Semyon Varlamov

Scratched: Reto Berra

Injured: Alex Tanguay (hip), PA Parenteau (knee), Matt Duchene (knee), Cory Sarich (back), Cody McLeod (knee)

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