Colorado's Duchene returns to practice, but not to game

  • Article by: MICHAEL KELLY , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 27, 2014 - 3:47 AM

– The signs are increasing that Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene might play in this series, but his coach will not yet sign off on putting him in the lineup.

Duchene, the team’s leading scorer during the regular season, took part in his first team practice at Saturday’s morning skate but Patrick Roy reiterated afterward he would not play in Game 5 against the Wild.

“It was his first day skating with the team,” Roy said Saturday morning. “We’ll see after how was it and I’ll tell you more [Sunday].”

It was basically the same message Roy delivered Friday, but the fact that Duchene was skating with his teammates is a new development. Saturday marks four weeks to the day since Duchene sprained the MCL in his left knee in a collision with teammate Jamie McGinn. At the time the team said he would miss 4-6 weeks, and he appears to be progressing on the front end of the projected time frame.

That was good news for a team that struggled offensively against the Wild in Games 3 and 4.

“He’s a top-flight scorer that brings a lot of offensive skills,” captain Gabe Landeskog said. “The confidence it will bring our offense that’s the main thing. The way he can hold onto the puck, protect the puck is something we need. We’ve missed him.”

Per team policy regarding injured players, Duchene was not made available after the morning skate.

At the start of the series Roy said Duchene — who had 23 goals and a team-best 47 assists in the regular season — was likely to miss the first round, but he has since softened his stance on the center’s availability.

Taking part in the morning skate was a positive sign for his teammates.

“Everybody’s very happy for him. Hopefully we’ll get him back pretty soon,” rookie center Nathan MacKinnon said. “In the playoffs you don’t get too many extra boosts. Knowing we’ll get him back soon and he won’t be out the rest of the year is a boost. He’s been skating on his own but it’s always nice to have one of our best players wearing the same colored jersey as us and participating in everything.”

Offense struggles

The loss of defenseman Tyson Barrie in Game 3 added to the Avalanche’s offensive woes. Barrie is the team’s best offensive blue line player and Colorado had a tough time generating scoring chances and shots on rookie goaltender Darcy Kuemper at Xcel Energy Arena.

Getting Duchene back at some point would help strengthen Colorado’s top two lines.

“He’s been a big part of what we’ve been doing,” forward P.A. Parenteau said. “It’s nice to see him out there. It can only give us a boost.”

Duchene’s return — whenever it happens — might not make a difference on Colorado’s power play. He played in all five regular-season games against the Wild and the Avalanche was 0-for-11 on with the man advantage. In this series Colorado has not been able to develop any flow on the power play, going 1-for-15 through the first four games.

Even if Duchene’s presence doesn’t improve the power play, having the team’s top scorer back would make a difference overall.

“Certainly when guys are getting better, with all the injuries we’ve had, when guys are starting to get back into the lineup it brings a little more energy to the lineup and a little more energy around the room and the rink,” Landeskog said.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Atlanta - LP: J. Teheran 2 FINAL
Philadelphia - WP: C. Hamels 9
Washington 0 FINAL
Miami 8
Boston 4 FINAL
Minnesota 4
Detroit 2 FINAL
Houston 3
Toronto - WP: C. Hynes 9 FINAL
Boston - LP: D. Hinojosa 7
Tampa Bay - WP: J. Norberto 3 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: C. Whitley 0
St. Louis 5 FINAL
NY Mets 4
Los Angeles 4 FINAL
Kansas City 4
LA Angels 1 FINAL
Oakland 4
San Diego 8 FINAL
Chicago WSox 2
Chicago WSox 12 FINAL
Seattle 4
Cleveland 2 FINAL
San Francisco 5
Milwaukee 7 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 11
Arizona 3 FINAL
Cincinnati 0
Texas 4 FINAL
Colorado 10
Pittsburgh 3 Top 9th Inning
Baltimore 3
Detroit 78 FINAL
Charlotte 102
Philadelphia 93 FINAL
Washington 106
San Antonio 103 FINAL
Orlando 91
Indiana 74 4th Qtr 5:45
Boston 87
Brooklyn 90 4th Qtr 8:16
New York 81
Chicago 55 3rd Qtr 8:50
Milwaukee 53
Dallas 66 3rd Qtr 10:46
Oklahoma City 70
Sacramento 72 3rd Qtr 6:05
Houston 72
Toronto 75 3rd Qtr 7:37
Minnesota 50
Denver 19 1st Qtr 2:36
Utah 18
LA Clippers 9:00 PM
Portland
New Orleans 9:30 PM
LA Lakers
Toronto 3 3rd Prd
Buffalo 2
Philadelphia 1 2nd Prd 7:59
Pittsburgh 1
Edmonton 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Colorado 9:30 PM
San Jose
Loyola-Chicago 45 2nd Half 11:37
ULM 49
UCLA 69 FINAL
Michigan 65
Temple 58 FINAL
West Virginia 66
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: What are you following most closely right now?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close