The initial response to Matt Duchene
's knee injury has been good for the Colorado Avalanche
, who head into Friday night's game against the Chicago Blackhawks
on a roll.
The Avs are on a three-game winning streak and have an 8-1 record in their previous nine games. They've also won two in a row since Duchene went down with a knee injury early in a game on Dec. 29 against the Phoenix Coyotes
Duchene, who had been playing left wing on the top line, is expected to be out at least a month while recovering -- which means the Avs need that top line to produce while he's out.
"Every team faces injuries and it's how you respond and how your team responds to those injuries," Avs coach Joe Sacco said on Friday morning at the United Center. "You hope you have those guys who can step up in the meantime and be able to fill those roles."
For Colorado, those guys initially are T.J. Galiardi -- playing left wing next to Paul Stastny
in Duchene's absence -- and David Jones
, who was bumped from the third line to right wing on the top line for Friday night's game against the Chicago Blackhawks
(8:30 p.m. ET).
Sacco likes what he's seen from Galiardi getting extended minutes in Duchene’s place and is eager to see what the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Jones -- who recently returned from an eight-game absence because of a groin injury -- can do around the net.
"For Jonesy, it's about winning 1-on-1 battles, getting to the front of the net, being physical on the forecheck and making sure he’s hard to play against," Sacco said. "When he does that, the offense can take care of itself. I'm hoping with a little more ice time on that (first) line and being able to generate some more offense, he could pop in some goals here or there for us around the front of the net."
Sacco also hopes that Jones and Galiardi can help the 26-year old Stastny -- the highest-paid Avalanche player -- get hot offensively. Stastny's been OK in the defensive zone, despite a minus-7 rating, but his 11 goals and 10 assists in 38 games are below what Sacco was expecting.
The Avs are back in playoff contention in the Western Conference with their recent hot spell, but will need Stastny and his new linemates to help second-liners like veteran Milan Hejduk
and rookie Gabriel Landeskog
carry the load with Duchene out.
"Offensively, he knows that we'd like to see some more production from him, and we know as a team that we need some more production from him offensively," Sacco said of Stastny. "We've been defending a lot better as a team and he's a big part of that. He does play 200 feet, but like I said, he knows we need some more offense from him and his line. We need some more from those guys."