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Matt Duchene separated shoulder at World Cup

Avalanche forward says injury won't hold him back this season

by Rick Sadowski / Correspondent

CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Duchene separated his shoulder while practicing with Team Canada before the World Cup of Hockey 2016 but said it won't hinder him this season.

Duchene, who practiced Monday for the first time with the Avalanche, said it's a "slight" injury that didn't affect his play in the tournament.

"It's better," he said after skating at right wing on a line with left wing Gabriel Bourque and center Nathan MacKinnon. "It's a little stiff in the mornings, but once I get warmed up I don't feel it. I feel good. I'm at 100 percent in terms of I can play."

Duchene had two goals and two assists in six World Cup games, with both goals coming in a 4-2 win against Team USA in the preliminary round. Team Canada swept Team Europe in the best-of-3 final.

Video: Matt Duchene returns to the Avalanche

Duchene, who scored an NHL career-high 30 goals last season, was injured during a practice on Sept. 13 on what he said was a routine hit.

"Just got a bump in practice," he said. "It's one of those things where it doesn't get worse if you play with it, it's just painful. It's going to linger for a bit, but it's feeling good. It was weird, it was a bad luck injury. That was it.

"The first day was the worst. I think I've played through worse. I've played through better, it wasn't a big deal. It didn't affect me all tournament. Obviously, the first time you go out, you're a little tentative on it, but after that, it's just fine."

Duchene never considered pulling out of the tournament.

"It's a huge honor to play for that team," he said. "It was something I put a lot of work into over the summer and for the past couple of years. We had a really good shot of winning that tournament and it was something I wanted to be a part of.

"I was pretty happy with the way I played. We just rolled four lines for the most part. We had pretty much four first lines and it was a great experience for me and something I'm looking to bring forward (with Colorado). I enjoyed it the day after and a couple of days after, but now it's back to work with the Avs here and I'm looking forward to helping this team win."

First-year coach Jared Bednar and the Avalanche were aware of the injury and kept informed of the situation.

"They didn't think it would be an issue here, and it wasn't," Bednar said. "Everything went great today, so it's good for us. It's good to get him back with our team."

Bednar hasn't decided whether to use Duchene at his natural position, center, or at right wing.

"We're looking at it," he said. "I haven't decided either way how our lines are going to shake out. We're still in kind of that evaluation mode. I like the way some of our guys have played at center, so I think we're going to have some options there."

Duchene said he would be fine playing either position.

"I can play right wing and center," he said. "I'm equally as comfortable now. I played most of last year at right wing. I'll probably be a hybrid this year. It's a bounce-back year for us, hopefully. That's our goal."

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