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Duchene game-time decision for Avalanche

by Rick Sadowski

DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene, who has missed three games because of an oblique injury, took part in the morning skate and might play Wednesday against the St. Louis Blues at Pepsi Center.

Duchene and coach Patrick Roy said it will be a game-time decision.

"We'll see," Duchene said. "I'm going to prepare like I am [playing] and we'll see what happens."

Duchene, who leads the Avalanche in scoring with 12 goals and 20 points in 19 games, was injured Nov. 16 against the Florida Panthers.

"It's been torture," he said. "I feel like I've been out a month. I can't believe it's only been nine or 10 days. It feels like it's been a lot longer. I got better really quick and I thought I was going to be able to play on our (recent two-game) road trip and it was a whole different story. Four days went by and it stayed about the same and the last few days I've taken a good step and started to feel better. I'm really pleased with the way I am now."

Roy has said he wouldn't rush Duchene back into the lineup and take a chance on him getting reinjured and being out for an even longer period. Duchene skated in non-contact drills Monday and in regular drills Tuesday.

"Even though I'm going to be playing potentially tonight or on the weekend [in a home-and-home series with the Minnesota Wild] I still think we're going to take things really slow in terms of off-ice stuff and make sure we're not skipping any steps and getting ahead of ourselves," Duchene said. "We're going to take care of this thing until it's gone.

"I have a little bit of pain left, but if I can perform at 100 percent of capacity and if I feel normal when I'm skating out there ... for a couple days there I felt like I was inside someone else's body. Now I feel good again. If I'm in tonight, hopefully I'll stay healthy and help the team win."

The Avalanche have gone 3-0-0 without Duchene and are in third place in the Central Division with a 17-5-0 record. The Blues have won four games in a row and are second in the division with a 17-3-3 record.

The Blues defeated the Avalanche 7-3 in a fight-filled game at Scottrade Center on Nov. 14.

"I definitely don't think we saw their 'A' game last time we played them," said Blues right wing Chris Stewart, who fought with Avalanche defenseman Cory Sarich that night. "I think they're going to come out hungry and play with a chip on their shoulder. They're a team that plays well at home and we have to limit the turnovers and play our game. It's a division game so there's going to be a lot of emotion. It's going to be a high-energy game and we're going to have to match their intensity."

Roy said the Avalanche are only interested in using their speed to win an important game, not in any kind of payback.

"You know what? The Blues did what they had to do," Roy said. "They were ready for us. They played a hard game, a strong game, and they played very well and I'm sure their coach [Ken Hitchcock] was very happy with their performance. We're going to have to be ready to play a good game. It's not about revenge, it's about playing a good hockey game.

"Two of their first three goals were power-play goals, so we have to make sure we're not going in the box. If we are, our penalty killing is going to have to have a big game. We're going to have to play our game."

Here are the projected lineups for the Blues and Avalanche:


Alexander Steen -- David Backes -- T.J. Oshie

Jaden Schwartz -- Vladimir Sobotka -- Vladimir Tarasenko

Derek Roy -- Patrik Berglund -- Chris Stewart

Brenden Morrow -- Maxim Lapierre -- Magnus Paajarvi

Jay Bouwmeester -- Alex Pietrangelo

Barret Jackman -- Kevin Shattenkirk

Ian Cole -- Roman Polak

Jaroslav Halak

Brian Elliott

Scratched: Carlo Colaiacovo, Adam Cracknell

Injured: Jordan Leopold (hand), Ryan Reaves (hand)


Gabriel Landeskog -- Nathan MacKinnon -- Ryan O'Reilly

Jamie McGinn -- Paul Stastny -- PA Parenteau

Cody McLeod -- John Mitchell -- Maxime Talbot

Brad Malone -- Marc-Andre Cliche -- Patrick Bordeleau

Jan Hejda -- Erik Johnson

Tyson Barrie -- Nate Guenin

Andre Benoit -- Cory Sarich

Semyon Varlamov

Jean-Sebastien Giguere

Scratched: Matt Duchene (oblique injury, game-time decision), Nick Holden

Injured: Alex Tanguay (knee), Ryan Wilson (back)

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