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Colorado Avalanche Mailbag: Dec. 2

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
We’re back with the latest version of the Colorado Avalanche Mailbag, 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 gives his answer.

Now, on to the Q&A:

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This is for Ryan O’Reilly. Ryan, with your good friend Joey Hishon just named to Team Canada’s camp for the Under-20 World Championship, do you ever look back and feel like you missed out on playing at one of the world’s top tournaments because you were in the NHL?
Dave from Dryden, Ontario

Isn’t it strange to think that Ryan is in the middle of his second NHL season, yet he’s still junior-eligible? That’s right, both he and Matt Duchene could still play for Team Canada at the 2011 World Juniors if the Avalanche were to release them to do so (which is not at all likely).

“Ten out of ten times I’d choose to play in the NHL over World Juniors. The level of competition in the NHL compared to the World Juniors isn’t even close. It definitely would have been a great experience and something I would have loved to been a part of, but I don’t regret it for one second. To play here with the top players in the world is the best. It’s a little unfortunate that I missed out on a great opportunity, but I definitely would choose being here.”

This question is for Kevin Shattenkirk.
So far this season, you have had great offensive and defensive success. For someone that wasn't even on the team's opening night roster, you have certainly filled in admirably in the midst of all these injuries. Can you pinpoint any one thing that has allowed you to make such a fine transition to the NHL? What has been different about your time with the Avalanche (where you have 10 points in 12 games at the time of my writing this) compared to your time with Lake Erie (where you were pointless in 10 games)?
Patrick from Armstrong, BC

“I think the one thing that’s helped me out the most is making sure I’m listening to all the older guys. They’ve kind of taught me little tricks here and there to help me adjust in the defensive zone and anticipate plays better. Just a lot of smaller details that you don’t really consider, but they make a huge difference up here. I knew the offensive side was a big part of my game and thought I could contribute a bit, but I didn’t think it would happen this fast.”

Hey, my question is for any of the guys. I recently started skating and playing hockey, it's given me a new appreciation of the skills you guys have! Any tips on how to improve other than to get on the ice as much as possible? And keep up the awesome work this season!
Mike, UK

We figured Matt Duchene would be a good person to answer this question, because he’s very much into finding new and unique ways to train. Here’s Matt’s answer:

“You can’t really practice your skating off the ice, but you can practice your hands. I’d say to get one of your sticks and cut it down relative to the same length your stick would be on the ice. Then stickhandle with a baseball on a carpet. The stitching on the baseball catches the carpet and makes it hard to stickhandle. If you can stickhandle the baseball on your carpet, a puck on the ice will be way easier. I used to stickhandle with a tennis ball, but I lost that and then found a baseball. It was the only thing I had so I brought it upstairs to stickhandle. I found it was way tougher and helped my hands a lot.”

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My question is for John-Michael Liles: I noticed that you are usually the last person to leave the ice after each game to congratulate your teammates; is there some type of ritual behind that now? I think you are a very admirable player for always putting your teammates first when discussing when you have had an awesome game. Great year so far for all you guys. Let's go Avs!!
Valarie from Westminster, Colorado

“Yeah, it’s just part of my ritual. I think I’ve been doing that since high school. After a win, I just make sure I’m the last one to leave the ice. It’s something that I’ve done for a long, long time.”

My question is for Matt Duchene or Paul Stastny-
I've noticed you two do a little song and dance together on the ice after winning games. I first saw it after Duchene's shootout goal in Vancouver last season. What is this little dance you are doing and how did it get started?
Liz from Littleton, Colorado

“He and I watch the TV show ‘How I Met Your Mother.’ It’s a dance that Marshall on the show does. He sings a song and we call it the Bang Bang Dance. You can find it on YouTube. We started doing it because it was such a funny episode and we were doing it all the time, so we started doing it after wins. We started doing it at the end of last season right when that episode came out. I think it started in St. Louis actually and it’s been a good tradition since. We get excited to do it after wins.”

My question is for John-Michael Liles.  First, what do you prefer to go by, John-Michael or something else?  Also, I know that you have been in Colorado for awhile and was wondering if you ever get a chance to make it to any Nuggets, Rockies, or Broncos games? And what do you enjoy about them?
Tanya from Arvada, Colorado

For someone whose life revolves around sports, Liles still enjoys spending much of his free time at sporting events. In fact, John-Michael is a big fan of the St. Louis Cardinals, and says that he makes it down to Chicago from his summer home to see a handful of Cubs/Cardinals matchups each year. He’s also very into the local Denver sports scene, as you’ll see shortly. First, let’s allow him to answer the question about his name.

“A lot of people call me Johnny. My family either calls me John-Michael or JM. Also, a lot of people call me John, so it varies. I answer to all three.

As for the sports question…

“Yeah, I’ve gone to a few Nuggets games, but not a ton. I’ve been to quite a few Broncos games, usually if it’s a Sunday or Monday Night Football game. Any chance we have to go to them, especially if I get a chance to see the Colts play there, I go. I also love going to Rockies games. I’m a huge baseball fan and usually go to 10, 15 or 20 games a year. I had season tickets a few years ago but I’m just not around enough in the summer. I go as much as I can to those different things because I’m a huge fan in general.

“It’s a different atmosphere when you’re playing than when you’re going just to enjoy the game, especially in the summer time when you’re going to a Rockies game. It doesn’t matter who they’re playing. It’s just the atmosphere of being at the ballpark in the summer time. It’s a great sports town and the fans are fantastic.”
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