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Avs' Duchene, Tucker return to Toronto Tuesday

by Adam Kimelman / NHL.com
Matt Duchene couldn't quite see the Air Canada Centre from his backyard, but playing the last two seasons with Ontario Hockey League's Brampton Battalion, he was awfully close.

Tuesday night, Duchene will make his NHL debut in the building when his Colorado Avalanche visit the Toronto Maple Leafs (7 p.m. ET, RIS).

The third pick of the 2009 Entry Draft, Duchene played his junior hockey about 25 miles west of downtown Toronto. The rookie center has 2 assists in his first five games, including an assist on Milan Hejduk's opening goal in Monday's 4-3 win in Boston. Thanks to the arrival of Duchene, as well as a few other new faces, the Avalanche are just two points behind Northwest Division-leading Calgary one season after finishing with the fewest points in the Western Conference.

"I think we're just going day by day," Duchene told Hockey Night in Canada Radio recently. "We've got great leadership from Adam Foote, our captain -- and we've had many team meetings about how we're going to approach the year and how we're going to stay together as a team. I don't we think we believe we're not going to win games and we're almost stubborn that way and I think it's helping us."

Duchene isn't the only Colorado player looking forward to this trip to Toronto. Darcy Tucker, who spent eight seasons with the Maple Leafs before being bought out of his contract following the 2007-08 season, will play his first game back there since then.

"We've got great leadership from Adam Foote, our captain -- and we've had many team meetings about how we're going to approach the year and how we're going to stay together as a team. I don't we think we believe we're not going to win games and we're almost stubborn that way and I think it's helping us."
-- Matt Duchene

Tucker had four 20-goal seasons for the Leafs, including career-bests of 28 goals and 61 points in 2005-06, and he was a fan favorite for his combination of scoring and toughness. Tucker has 2 goals in five games this season, after scoring just 8 in 63 games last season.

The Leafs team the Avalanche faces Tuesday is in a bit of disarray. Toronto (0-4-1) has yet to win, and they'll start their third goalie of the season when Joey MacDonald makes his NHL debut. With Vesa Toskala hobbled by a knee injury and Jonas Gustavsson on the injured list with a groin injury, MacDonald is being pressed into starting duty. He played 49 games for the New York Islanders last season, going 14-26-6 with a 3.37 goals-against average. James Reimer was called up from the AHL Toronto Marlies to back up MacDonald.

Tyler Bozak also was recalled and he'll join the returning Viktor Stalberg in the lineup. Stalberg had missed the last two games with a concussion. Stalberg and Bozak looked good together on a line during training camp, so the hope is maybe that magic can re-create itself. To make room, Matt Stajan and Niklas Hagman will be healthy scratches.

"We have to shake things up," said Leafs coach Ron Wilson. "We've got Stalberg coming back and we brought up Bozak. It can't always be like the movie 'Usual Suspects.' It's easy to pick on four or five guys, but we need more from everybody. Although they've scored some goals, their overall play hasn't been what we need it to be.

"We're giving opportunities to younger people. It's as simple as that."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com
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