Duch­ene gets All- Star bid

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Terry Frei

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.”

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