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Colborne Gets Chance On Top Line

Avalanche looking for offense against Kings

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab /

Forward Joe Colborne will get the opportunity to play on the Colorado Avalanche's top line this evening as the team takes on the Los Angeles Kings at Pepsi Center.

Colborne will be on the wing on a combo with Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog.

"I'm excited. I get a chance to play with two of our top players and two of the top players in the league," Colborne said of the move. "Any time you get an opportunity like that, you want to just go out there, play with energy and have some fun."

The Calgary, Alberta, native is in his first season with Colorado after signing a two-year contract as a free agent on July 1. He posted back-to-back 28-point seasons with the Calgary Flames before breaking out last year with 19 goals and 44 points, both career highs.

Video: Joe Colborne talks about his new line

Bednar wants to see that same kind of offensive production from the center, who enters the game with four points on the season--three of which came in a hat trick on opening night.

"[The new] guys were brought in for a reason. They've scored in other places. [Colborne's] a guy that had 19 goals last year; we need him to start producing again," Bednar said. "He had a good night the first night, but he's kind of been cold ever since."

At 6-foot-5 and 221 pounds, Colborne is a big presence on the ice and admits that he does some of his best work low in the offensive zone and in front of opposing netminders.

He'll be expected to do much of the same with his new linemates. With Colborne possibly gaining more attention from the Kings in the slot, it could result in MacKinnon and Landeskog having more room to make plays elsewhere.

Colborne said the coaching staff wants him to just the play the game that he knows he can play.

"Be strong on pucks, get some pucks to those guys and let them do their thing," Colborne said. "Get to the net and open up some space and go and score some goals. Hopefully we get some chemistry going right from the start, and it's the start of a good thing."

The Avalanche has scored just seven goals over its last six games, and moving Colborne to the top trio is just one of a few minor tweaks Bednar will make to his lineup in an effort to generate more offense.

Rookie Mikko Rantanen is expected to play with Rene Bourque and Carl Soderberg in a top-six group, and Mikhail Grigorenko should center a combo with Cody McLeod and Andreas Martinsen. Jarome Iginla and John Mitchell will play with Blake Comeau, who will make his return to the ice after missing four games with a nagging groin injury.

"We need some production throughout our lineup. It can't just be our top guys," Bednar said. "We need to find some secondary scoring--some primary scoring really at this point. We've had combinations together. We've tried to leave them together for four or five games, six games; we see some things we like and then we don't and we split them up again. We have to find something that works. We just can't leave it the way it is."

On defense, Patrick Wiercioch will reenter the fold after sitting out two contests as a healthy scratch. He'll be paired with Tyson Barrie, who he played with earlier in the season.

Wiercioch will also be back on the left side, a spot he's excited to return to and thinks will help create more offense for the team.

"It's a little more familiar I guess on that side. It gives you a little different option in the offensive zone to shoot pucks with different angles. Obviously, [Barrie's] a skilled player, a guy that can handle the puck. Give it to him early and let him skate with it."

Video: Wiercioch returns to the Avalanche lineup

Colorado is 1-2-0 so far in its four-game homestand. Overall, the Avs are 3-4-0 on home ice this season.

"It's something we've talked about quite a bit. A big part of being successful and becoming a team that is hard to play against is making sure that you're bringing the effort at home every time," Colborne said. "The last few games, we haven't had the execution and consistency, but the effort has been there. Now, we need to make sure that we're bearing down and getting pucks to the net and hopefully bang in a few and give [goaltender Semyon Varlamov] some support."

L.A. has kind of been in a rut as well. The Kings are 2-6-1 in road outings this year and are finishing up a five-game road trip this evening. They've lost each of their last three contests (0-2-1) and are 1-2-1 during the swing that had them play four Canadian teams.

The opportunity is there tonight for the Avalanche to get back to .500 at Pepsi Center and build some momentum before it starts a three-game road trip on Thursday at the Dallas Stars.


Avalanche forward Matt Duchene skated for the first time Tuesday since suffering a head injury in the second period of Friday night's contest versus the Winnipeg Jets. He took part in the team's morning skate wearing a red, non-contact jersey.

"He felt better today then yesterday, so we'll see what tomorrow brings, but we're just taking it day by day right now," said head coach Jared Bednar.

Video: Coach Bednar's pregame press conference

Bednar is optimistic that things will continue to point in a positive direction for the Avs' leading scorer. The Colorado coach said Duchene would travel with the club on its upcoming road trip that has stops in Dallas, Minnesota and Columbus.

"Hopefully he gets through that skate, starts feeling good this afternoon, and then we'll progress again tomorrow," Bednar said. "We might be able to see him in some contact."

If he is able to take part in some physical drills during Wednesday's practice, there is a real possibility that Duchene could be back for Thursday's contest at the Stars.

Duchene leads the Avalanche with six goals and 11 points in 13 games this year.


Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Joe Colborne

Rene Bourque - Carl Soderberg - Mikko Rantanen

Blake Comeau - John Mitchell - Jarome Iginla

Cody McLeod - Mikhail Grigorenko - Andreas Martinsen


Fedor Tyutin - Erik Johnson

Patrick Wiercioch - Tyson Barrie

Nikita Zadorov - Francois Beauchemin


Semyon Varlamov

Calvin Pickard

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