Duchene gets All- Star bid
Avalanche forward Matt Duchene, one of the hottest scorers in the league since Nov. 1, is going back to the NHL All- Star Game. His first trip was eventful. Duchene had just turned 20 when he had a goal in Team Lidstrom’s 11- 10 win over Team Staal in the 2011 game in Raleigh, N. C. He also was awarded the first penalty shot in All- Star Game history, after Washington’s Alex Ovechkin playfully knocked his stick out of his hands, but New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist made the save on Duchene’s backhanded attempt.
There have been only two AllStar Games since— at Ottawa in 2012 and Columbus, Ohio, last year — but Duchene didn’t play in either. Hewas out of the Colorado lineup for all of January 2012 with a knee injury, and last season, he was slump- ridden when the all- star participants were selected.
The NHL on Wednesday announced that Duchene was among the six forwards named to the Central Division’s roster for the Jan. 31 all- star event in Nashville, Tenn. It’s stretching it to call it a game, since it will be a quick four- team, 3- on- 3 tournament, with each division having an 11- man roster.
“It’s a nice accolade or award, I guess,” Duchene said after the Avalanche’s morning skate Wednesday. “But I’ll continue to focus on the task at hand here … and put it on the back burner until the time comes and then go enjoy it. It should be a great time.”
In 2011, Duchene was wideeyed playing on the team captained by Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom. Duchene said he is “probably equally as excited” to be selected as hewas in 2011, “but I’m able to put it in a little different place.”
He added: “I’m able to handle it a little better, I think. That time, you’re in your second year and you’re still really new to the league and everything’s so new. … I think my game was still OK after that, but I think I’ll be able to put it in a better place and remain a little more even- keel.”
Duchene went into Wednesday night’s game against St. Louis with 18 goals and 33 points, especially impressive considering he had only one goal in Colorado’s first 11 games.
Finnish Gold. Mikko Rantanen, theAvalanche’s 19- year- old firstround draft pick from last year, was impressive while serving as captain and helping Finland win the world junior championship in Helsinki. But Colorado coach Patrick Roy said it didn’t increase the chances of Rantanen joining the Avs this season.
Rantanen has 10 goals and 26 points in 22 games with the Avalanche’s AHL affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage.
“I’m very happy the way he played,” Roy said. “I was very happy that hewent and played in the world juniors, he was the captain of the team, and I thought itwould be a great experience for him. I think it’s going to make him an even better leader, a better hockey player. But no, I believe he needs a year in the minors to learn our style of play, smaller ice, and I think he’ll benefit a lot from it.
“I’m not saying there’s no chance he will be called up here and there, but I’d be very surprised if he came in and played regularly for us. Right now, we have our guys and I’m comfortable with our lineup.”