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Duchene Finding His Rhythm

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
For some reason he can’t entirely put his finger on, Matt Duchene hasn’t been putting the puck in the net as frequently in October as he has the rest of the year over the past few seasons.

Looking back to his rookie campaign, the Haliburton, Ontario native notched seven points (2g/5a) through his first 21 games. He then found his groove, totaling 12 points (7g/5a) in his next 11 contests. Following his aforementioned relatively slow start, Duchene netted 48 points (22g/26a) over his final 60 games.

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Things started off somewhat similar in 2009-10, as he netted just two goals in his first 18 contests.

It’s not like he was playing poorly early this season. Far from it, actually. Duchene has been well ahead of his rookie year scoring pace all season, and still managed to record 14 points (2g/12a) through those first 18 games.

Since then, the second-year center has turned things on and doesn’t plan on looking back. Duchene has now scored in five of his past six games, which includes a current four-game goal streak.

“It’s just a rhythm. It takes me a little while to get into it,” explained Duchene. “Some guys start off really hot right away and they can keep that going. For me, I have to kind of feel it out a little bit. I don’t expect it to be like that my whole career, but the last couple years it’s been a bit like that.”

If you look at the time he spent with the Brampton Battalion of the Ontario Hockey League, the results are more of the same.

In the 2008-09 season, his final year in juniors, Duchene recorded 10 points in his first 11 games. That’s nothing to bat an eye at by any means, but pales in comparison to the rest of his season when you consider he averaged approximately 1.4 points-per-game.

Looking back to 2007-08, his first campaign with Brampton, Duchene notched 10 points (6g/4a) in his first 20 contests before finishing the season by totaling 40 points (24g/16a) in his last 44 games.

Duchene wasn’t quite as snake-bitten early this season as he was during his rookie campaign – when he estimates he hit at least six or seven posts in October alone – but he still feels that the bounces simply weren’t going his way early on.

“At the beginning of the season I was getting assists and was pretty close to a point-per-game, but wasn’t scoring too much,” said Duchene. “It was almost like I had a repelling magnet on my stick for the puck. One time I’d go to the left side of the net and it would pop out to the right, the next time I would be on the right and it would pop out on the left. Right now I just feel like the puck is attracted to my stick a bit more.”

The difference now that that he’s scoring goals - as opposed to setting them up - is a boost in not only his confidence level, but also his feel for the game in general.

“You feel a little bit more in the game. I’m probably more of a playmaker than a goal scorer at the end of the day, but I can do both pretty well. It’s nice to get both going at the same time, because you double your output. That helps out a lot more not only for yourself, but for the team.”

Practice Notes
The Avalanche held an early practice this morning before hopping on a flight to open its five-game road trip Friday night in Carolina…Thursday’s skate focused primarily on special teams…Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco said that Craig Anderson will start in goal Friday against the Hurricanes…Captain Adam Foote will make his return to the lineup on Friday as well…Avalanche forwards Milan Hejduk, David Jones and Cody McLeod were all back on the ice today after taking maintenance days on Wednesday.

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