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Duchene Listed As Day-To-Day

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
Sophomore center Matt Duchene is officially being listed as day-to-day for Wednesday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins due to a hand injury, Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco announced following Tuesday’s practice.

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Sacco also noted that the young forward was currently being re-examined, and that more should be known on Wednesday morning regarding his status.

Duchene was hurt in the closing seconds of the second period during Monday’s loss to the Calgary Flames. As the period concluded, Duchene hustled straight to the locker room while bent over in obvious discomfort. He did not return to the game thereafter.

Colorado’s leader in both goals (21) and points (47), Duchene is one of just two Avalanche players (John-Michael Liles being the other) who have appeared in each of the team’s first 57 games.

With the Avs in the midst of a long losing streak – and facing the possibility of being without the services of one of their two All-Star centers – Sacco relayed a straightforward message to his team today.

“We’re all in this together right now. Obviously we need a win to feel better about ourselves,” said Sacco. “The message was that no one should feel like they’re on an island, isolated by themselves. We’re all in this together.

“My job is to make sure everybody is pulling together in the same direction here and we don’t have guys going in one direction or the other direction.”

The team’s other All-Star center, Paul Stastny, admitted that he didn’t have any exact answers to why the team has been struggling, but pointed out that the Avs may need to play a more uncomplicated style.

“Whether it’s one-on-one battles, whether it’s winning faceoffs, whether it’s over-committing, we have to trust our linemates and ‘D’ pairings more, and rely on them to take the body instead of trying to overplay and cover two things at once,” said Stastny. “I think sometimes you just have to simplify, and that’s starting in the ‘D’ zone.”

Defensive Updates
Avalanche captain Adam Foote again wasn’t on the ice today as the Avs prepared for Pittsburgh. Foote, who last played on Feb. 7 at Phoenix, has missed Colorado’s past four games with a leg injury. Sacco announced today that the veteran will miss at least another week.

Foote’s next appearance will be the 1,149th regular season game of his NHL career, moving him past Borje Salming (1,148) for 37th place all-time among league blueliners.

In a positive sign, rookie defenseman Cameron Gaunce was on the ice today and participated in a full practice. Gaunce exited Monday’s game against Calgary after blocking a shot late in the third period and did not return.

Also of note, fellow rookie defenseman Jonas Holos was on the ice briefly today, wearing an orange non-contact jersey. Although he didn’t take part in practice, it was encouraging to see the Norway native on skates. Holos was recalled from Lake Erie on Feb. 10 and played in Columbus on Feb. 11, but has missed the Avalanche’s last two contests with a head injury.  He has recorded three assists and a team-best +6 plus/minus rating in 17 games this season.

Penguins Hurting Too
If the Avs want to snap their losing streak, they’ll have to do so against a Pittsburgh team that’s been battling the injury bug as well.

The Penguins are without their two superstars, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Crosby is still dealing with the lingering effects of a concussion and last played on Jan. 5. Malkin, meanwhile, underwent surgery last week to repair a torn ACL and torn MCL in his left knee and is expected to miss six months.

The injuries don’t stop there, either. Arron Asham (upper-body injury) and Chris Kunitz (lower-body injury) are day-to-day, Eric Tangradi is still experiencing concussion-like symptoms after being injured by New York Islanders forward Trevor Gillies on Feb. 11 and Mark Letestu is on injured reserve with a knee injury.

Odds and Ends
Brandon Yip didn’t participate in today’s practice, but it was labeled a maintenance day for the forward…Milan Hejduk also didn’t skate due to the flu, but he’s expected to be available for tomorrow’s game…Sacco said that he will announce his starting goalie tomorrow morning.
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