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Colorado Avalanche Mailbag - April 8

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
We’re back with the final Colorado Avalanche Mailbag of the regular season, where players respond to fan questions.

As always, your questions are in bold. If we feel the need to provide some additional commentary or clarification, that will come in italics before the player provides his answer.

Let’s get right to the Q&A:

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Hello, Brandon Yip. It’s great to see you back playing after your shoulder injury. I’d like to hear your thoughts on a couple of your former (and hopefully future) teammates from Boston University, Kevin Shattenkirk and Colby Cohen. What can you tell us about their games?
Jocelyn from Denver, Colorado

As you probably heard, Jocelyn, the Avalanche signed both Shattenkirk and Cohen to entry-level contracts this past Saturday. There are many unique parallels between the two players as well. They were both drafted by Colorado at the 2007 Entry Draft (Shattenkirk in the first round and Cohen in the second). Both players attended Boston University, where they won a national championship in 2009. During their time at BU, they were defensive partners, as well as roommates.

If you haven’t seen the duo play, check out some highlights of both
Shattenkirk and Cohen.

Yip: “They’ve been buddies for a long time I think, and defense partners for I don’t know how long. Probably since they were at the National Team Program. Ever since they got to BU they were defensive partners, so they definitely have some history together. Cohen is a great guy to have at the point and he’s got a really heavy shot. Shatty knows the game very well, is a very smart player and has great hands.”

My question is for Matt Duchene. Matt, how often do you watch other NHL games? I’m sure you probably watch the highlights in the morning like all of us, but do you sit down at home and watch full games? Or do you like to relax and think about other things when you’re away from the rink?
Kevin from Halifax, Nova Scotia

Duchene: “I don’t watch full games very often. I’m a fan of the game and I’ll watch games at certain times if there’s a big game or guys that I want to watch. I try to just keep the focus on our team, but I’m still a student of the game. I like to watch the best players in the league and see why they’re successful. Hockey is a job and something I absolutely love to do. It doesn’t feel like it’s a job, but it is one, and sometimes you need to get some distance from it so you’re fresh. If you’re thinking about it all the time you get a little stale. Whenever things aren’t going well, it’s good to step away from it, relax and have some fun outside of hockey.”

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This is for John-Michael Liles. I’m a high school player and will be switching from left wing to defense next season. I’ve heard some people say that a defenseman should use a different style of stick. Do you think that’s true? Should I use a longer stick? One that has more or less flex?
Anthony from Parker, Colorado

Liles essentially believes it’s up to the individual player, as a hockey player’s stick is the single most important piece of equipment they use. As a point of reference, John-Michael uses a slightly shorter stick with a 95 Flex.

Liles: “Generally, I would say you want your stick a little bit longer, but it’s really a preference and depends on the style of game you play. If you’re more of a physical, defensive defenseman, then I think a longer stick can come in handy for poking pucks away and breaking up plays. Myself, I use a little bit of a shorter stick, just because I’m short and I like to bring it in tight and stickhandle. It’s true for forwards as well. There are a lot of guys on our team who use really short sticks because they like to stickhandle in tight. I think it’s more personal preference. As for flex, it depends on what kind of shot you like to shoot. If you like to shoot more of a snap shot, you like to have a whippy stick. I use more of a stiff stick, because most of the shots I try to take are slappers.”

Hello! I’d like to ask a question to Matt Duchene. You’ve already been through a lot in your career, even though you’re only 19 years old. What has been the biggest highlight of your career, and what was the toughest event or stretch that you’ve had? This could include your time in the NHL, juniors, or even before.
Sam from Cheyenne, Wyoming

Duchene: “This whole season has been a pretty big highlight, but prior to this year I think winning a gold medal in Russia with Team Canada for Under-18s was probably the biggest victory I’ve ever been a part of. That was incredible, playing in front of 10,000 Russian fans. We beat them 8-0, but it was a hard battle to get there. We lost to them, 4-2, in the round robin, so that was a huge high. My lowest of lows was probably last year when I was cut from World Juniors. I separated my shoulder before camp and wasn’t able to play very well there, so I got cut. I felt I could have been on that team, so that was a pretty big wound. It took a while to heal but it helped make me stronger and also helped me in the playoffs last year.”

I want to ask T.J. Galiardi about being on the road. Because you fly so much for road games, I’m wondering what the preferred method of time-killing is on the team airplane.
Timothy from Austin, Texas

Galiardi: “There’s a group of guys who play cards. Stewy and I sit by each other and sometimes we’ll watch a movie. He loves his iPod too. Some guys read, some sleep, but most guys bring a laptop and watch a movie or a TV show. There’s a pretty good variation, actually.”

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