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Stewart Goes Full Contact

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
The biggest news coming out of Tuesday’s practice at Family Sports Center was that Colorado Avalanche sophomore Matt Duchene was selected to participate in the 2011 NHL All-Star Game on Jan. 30 in Raleigh, N.C.

The center, who is leading the Avalanche in goals (18), assists (tie-25) and points (43), became the youngest player in Avalanche history to be selected to an All-Star Game.

Following Tuesday’s skate, Duchene, who turns 20 years old on Jan. 16, reacted to his selection.

“It’s a great honor and a surprise; I didn’t know they were naming it today. It was a great surprise to come in to this morning,” said Duchene. “I want to keep that distraction to the side for now because we’ve still got a lot of games coming up and we need to win them.”

Duchene will be joined in Raleigh by defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who was one of 12 rookies selected to compete alongside 42 All-Stars in the Honda NHL SuperSkills on Saturday, Jan. 29 at the RBC Center.

Shattenkirk, who missed Monday’s game against Detroit with a foot injury, did not skate today and will be reevaluated on Wednesday morning.

“This morning, again, the foot was a little bit sore, so we decided to give him another day off today,” said Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco. “We’ll see how he presents in the morning. If he presents well he’ll go through morning skate tomorrow morning in Chicago and then we’ll make a decision after that.”

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Stewart Goes Full Contact
Besides the selections of Duchene and Shattenkirk, there was some other good news on Tuesday. Forward Chris Stewart participated in his first full-contact practice since fracturing his hand in a fight with Kyle Brodziak during Colorado’s Nov. 27 game against the Minnesota Wild. Stewart will accompany the team on its two-game road trip, which features contests against the Chicago Blackhawks (Wednesday) and Minnesota Wild (Friday).

Following practice, Stewart addressed the media for the first time since suffering the injury.

“The skate went well. I was skating, shooting, catching passes and got a chance to jump on the power play for a bit too,” said Stewart. “I’m not too sure how close I am. We’re just going to take it day-by-day here and just get better every day.”

Sacco explained that he likes the direction in which Stewart’s progress is headed, and also noted that the power forward did a good job of keeping himself in top shape throughout his rehabilitation period. Still, there is no firm return date for the Toronto native.

“We’ll just continue to see how he progresses each day. He looked good out there today,” said Sacco. “He continues to get stronger out there. He’s cleared for practice now; when he’s cleared for the games by our doctors we’ll make a decision then.”

Cumiskey Will Travel
Following yesterday’s morning skate, Sacco confirmed that defenseman Kyle Cumiskey would travel with the team on its road swing. Even though the blueliner wasn’t on the ice during today’s practice due to illness, that plan hasn’t changed.

Cumiskey has been out of the lineup since he suffered a head injury on Oct. 30 against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Also of note, forward Cody McLeod was on the ice again today and took part in a full practice without wearing an orange non-contact jersey. McLeod remains day-to-day with a groin injury.
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