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At the Rink blog

Ankle injury to sideline Duchene at least one game

Wednesday, 03.07.2012 / 5:10 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent / At the Rink blog

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At the Rink blog
Ankle injury to sideline Duchene at least one game
CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Duchene will miss at least one game with a right ankle injury that was still being evaluated Wednesday.

Duchene was injured at 5:14 of the third period in Tuesday night's 7-1 rout of Minnesota when he was tripped by Wild right wing Nick Palmieri. Duchene's ankle was X-rayed, but coach Joe Sacco said he didn't know if a fracture had been found. He said after practice Wednesday that more tests were being administered.

"All I know is it's an ankle injury right now," Sacco said. "He'll be re-evaluated today and I'll know more tonight or tomorrow morning."

Duchene and right wing Chuck Kobasew, who has missed four games with a back injury, didn't accompany the team for Thursday night's game in Nashville, a one-game trip.

"We have plenty of bodies right now and we'll just do some line shuffling," Sacco said.

Mark Olver, who has been playing left wing on a line with Duchene and right wing Peter Mueller, will shift to center on the unit. Mueller will move to the left side and Milan Hejduk will skate at right wing.

Defenseman Ryan O'Byrne, who has missed seven games with a knee injury, took part in contact drills Wednesday and will be available Thursday.

"It's tough to keep a totally healthy lineup in this game," O'Byrne said. "Dutchie is a big part of our team and hopefully he's not out for long."

It's been a difficult season for Duchene, who suffered a left knee injury in a Dec. 29 game against Phoenix and missed 20 games. He came back Feb. 22 against Winnipeg and was used as a left wing for a few games until returning to his natural center position in Sunday's 2-0 win in Minnesota.

Duchene led the Avalanche in scoring last season when he posted career highs for goals (27), assists (40) and points (67), but he has just 13 goals and 13 assists in 48 games this year. He has 1 goal and 1 assist in nine games since returning from his knee injury.

"Every team goes through injuries, whether it's the same guy getting hurt or other guys at different times," center Paul Stastny said. "We just have to find a way to deal with it."

Stastny and teammate David Jones thought Duchene might have re-injured his knee when tripped, a play that didn't result in a penalty.

"I think he just fell awkwardly," Jones said.

Stastny said a penalty could have been called, but he didn't think it was intentional.

"Sometimes it's just a string of bad luck," he said. "You just hope he's OK. It's been a frustrating year for him. It wears on you mentally, but he'll get stronger from it. We just hope he gets back as soon as possible. If he's out for a certain amount of time, we'll pick him up. When he gets back, it'll be another good addition."

Sacco has been impressed with Olver, who is fearless when it comes to skating into the corners and in traffic despite being listed at 5-feet-10 and 170 pounds.   

"He plays the game in those areas all the time," Sacco said. "He's not a big man in stature, but he plays big. He's one of those players, when he gets on the ice, the opposition takes notice because it seems like he's always a pain in the rear end. Those are some of the type of players that we need. He's been making some plays, playing with some physicality in his game. He's been real good. I've been real happy with his play so far."

Olver missed 35 games to recover from a concussion he sustained in training camp. He had 2 goals and 7 assists in 15 games with Lake Erie in the American Hockey League and has 3 goals and 2 assists in 10 games with the Avalanche since his Feb. 16 recall.

"Being my size, either you have to be skilled or you have to be gritty," Olver, 24, said. "I don't have that much skill, so hopefully I can get a little grit and help the team out as much as I can. If I have to go to those dirty areas to help the team win, I will."

Quote of the Day

It's really exciting. I'm pretty sure that when I play my first game I'm going to be emotional. To be back on the ice playing a game, being in game situations, with all the routines and rituals I do before games and during the game, I feel like I'm going to be emotional. I'm going to be really happy.

— Montreal Canadiens forward Tim Bozon on playing for the first time since his life-threaning illness