Skip to main content
The Official Site of the Colorado Avalanche

Duchene Close To Returning

Avs forward took part in a full team practice Wednesday

by Danielle Bernstein @danibernstein /

CENTENNIAL, Colo.--Following Tuesday night's 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings, the Colorado Avalanche was back at Family Sports Center on Wednesday morning, hard at work before catching a flight to Dallas for the first of a three-game road trip.

Forward Matt Duchene was on the ice, a full participant in practice for the first time since sustaining a head injury from a hit in Friday's game against Winnipeg. Duchene, who leads the team in scoring with six goals and 11 points, skated on a line with Mikko Rantanen and Andreas Martinsen during the hour-long session.

"It felt good. I feel better every day," Duchene said after practice, also noting that his symptoms weren't typical of a concussion, which made it more difficult to initially identify. "I think things start to settle in as you're healing and you feel better as the day goes on and day-to-day, and today I felt like I was able to be myself out there."

The Avs center also revealed that this was his first concussion.

"Trying to navigate through it has been pretty foreign to me," he said. "The trainers have done a good job of helping me try to get back, and I feel pretty good."

Video: Matt Duchene talks about head injury

Duchene's status for Thursday's game is still up in the air, as he continues to be evaluated on a day-to-day basis, but head coach Jared Bednar liked what he saw on the ice from the team's leading scorer.

"We did some battling at the end of practice. He looked like he was working hard," Bednar said of Duchene. "Getting hit, taking hits, giving hits. Now we just have to see, as long as he feels good later today and tomorrow, then he should be able to play for us."

Missing from Wednesday's practice were captain Gabriel Landeskog and defenseman Patrick Wiercioch, both of whom scored goals in Colorado's 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night. Both players were held off the ice for maintenance days.

"I think they both got a little dinged up a little bit last night and I think both of them are going to be fine, but we're going to keep them off the ice today," Bednar said.

In the absence of Landeskog, Colorado's lines looked very different from Tuesday's lineup, as Carl Soderberg centered wings Blake Comeau and Joe Colborne, Mikhail Grigorenko played with Rene Bourque and Nathan MacKinnon, and John Mitchell, Cody McLeod and Jarome Iginla comprised a line.

With the status of Duchene still uncertain, Bednar was unsure of what Thursday's lineup might look like.

"We won't know until tomorrow," he said. "We'll see how they feel and then we'll kind of sort out our lines. If all of a sudden Duchene can't go, it probably looks more like last night's lineup."

Video: Avs coach Jared Bednar gives an update on the team

The defensive pairings were nearly identical to last night's groups, with one exception: Tyson Barrie, who played alongside Wiercioch against the Kings, skated with Eric Gelinas.

Tuesday's game was the first time this season that Colorado's D pairings were drastically shaken up, and Bednar noted that pairing Fedor Tyutin with Erik Johnson as the team's top duo was partially due to the exceptional play by the Russian defenseman in recent games.

"That pair is generally responsible to take on the other team's top line. Zadorov has been good, but he's a young guy, and sometimes it's ok to take a step back," Bednar said. "He's still doing a lot of good things. He's processing a lot for a young guy. Toots (Tyutin) has been playing real well. We weren't having a whole lot of success in some of our games. Last night we put Tyutin out there. I think it's good to reward guys when they play well and vice versa to try and make sure guys are always on top of their game so there's a little bit of an internal push for ice time. It worked out for us last night."

The Avs will continue to ride goaltender Semyon Varlamov, who is 2-1-0 with a 1.33 goals-against average and .958 save percentage in his last three starts and has allowed just two goals on 78 shots in his last two outings.

"He's played three really strong games here for us. If we find a way to score one goal against Boston then we have a chance to win the game in overtime. That's how good he was," said Bednar. "Last night, again, I thought he was strong. When we needed a save, he gave it to us. They were going back and forth there for a little bit. We were open to going to [Calvin Pickard] a little bit more. If Pick would have got hot, or if he gets hot, we'll ride him a little bit. That's just kind of the situation we're in. So we like what Varly's done lately so we're going to go with him."

The Avalanche takes on the Dallas Stars at 6:30 p.m. MT on Thursday at American Airlines Center. The game can be seen live on Altitude and fans can listen in on Altitude Sports Radio AM 950 or on Colorado

View More