A midseason run of 15 losses in 19 games doomed any hopes the Colorado Avalanche had of making a surprise playoff run, and the 2013 campaign will most likely be remembered for the Ryan O’Reilly offer sheet saga or goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere saying earlier this month that “some guys are more worried about their Vegas trip at the end of the season than playing the remaining games.”

The funny thing is, since Giguere's call-out, things have turned around a bit for the Avalanche. Six of Colorado’s last seven games have been against playoff contenders, and the Avs have collected points in five (3-2-2). This late-season upswing may wind up hurting the Avs' draft position, but the lowest they can possibly pick is No. 7 (they'd be No. 2 in the draft order if the season ended today), and there is something more important at stake here: reclaiming pride for the organization.

“You want to go into the summer with a good feeling, and these last games can really affect that,” center Matt Duchene told Sporting News. “As a team, I think we’re pretty close. We have some really good pieces, and guys that are learning all the time, including myself. We’re getting experience, and you only improve through adversity. That’s the way I look at it here, and if we can all look at it that way, we take lessons and become better for it, we set ourselves up to become a better hockey team.”

Duchene is 22, as is O’Reilly. Gabriel Landeskog, the team captain, is 20. On defense, Tyson Barrie has shown promise at 21, and should be joined sooner rather than later by Duncan Siemens, picked nine spots behind Landeskog at No. 11 in the 2011 Draft. Beyond that extreme youth, it is worth remembering that the only member of the Avalanche’s top six who is as old as 30 is P.A. Parenteau, who just hit that milestone last month, and is a late bloomer by NHL standards anyway, having played only five games in the league before he was 26.