Saturday's matinee between the Edmonton Oilers and Avalanche at the Pepsi Center will feature two young and relatively inexperienced teams up front, particularly on the top two lines.
The difference is, the Oilers chose that route by going with a handful of first-round draft picks while the Avs are using young and unproven players because of injuries and the inability to sign restricted free agent Ryan O'Reilly.
Avs captain Gabe Landeskog, the left winger on Matt Duchene's line, will miss his fourth consecutive game because of a head injury. David Jones, Paul Stastny's right winger, is out with a knee injury. Coupled with the season-ending knee injury suffered by forward Steve Downie and the contract dispute with O'Reilly, Colorado is missing four of its top nine forwards.
"It hurts," Duchene said Friday after a light afternoon practice. The Avs returned past midnight from a road trip that ended 1-3. "Obviously, we already lost 'Downs.' But we can't let it get us down. We have to have a positive attitude, and know that we have the guys in the room to overcome their loss. And when Landy (and Jones) come back, it's going to be a big boost. But we can't afford to lose energy over it right now."
Landeskog, who suffered head and leg injuries from an unpenalized neutral-zone check by San Jose defenseman Brad Stuart last Saturday, has been placed on seven-day injured reserve, retroactive to Jan. 28. He will be eligible to return Monday when the Avs continue a four-game homestand against the Dallas Stars, but that seems unlikely.
"No timetable on his return," Avs coach Joe Sacco said Friday. "The leg has come around. Now it's just his head."
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