NOT ALL PLAYERS THRIVING IN NEW SURROUNDINGS
Nashville living seems to be suiting Matt Duchene fine these days.
Maybe it’s because he’s a country fan at heart who said his go-to karaoke song is Whiskey Glasses by Morgan Waller. Or that he grew up in Haliburton, Ont., a small town that he jokingly described as the “Canadian Nashville.”
Or maybe it has less to do with where he ended up and more to do with the date when he arrived.
Duchene, who already has six assists in three games since signing with Nashville in the summer, is playing on his fourth team in two years. But unlike when he joined Ottawa and Columbus, his first game with the Predators didn’t come in the middle of the season.
“Getting traded mid-season is so hard,” Duchene told me last month at the Player Media Tour in Chicago. “It’s happened to me twice. I was so comfortable in Ottawa. I got to Columbus and you play the same way, but you can’t figure out how to get the puck, you can’t figure out how to get it on the boards. You can’t play your game. It takes you about 20 games to get comfortable when you get traded mid-season.
“I’m hoping this time in Nashville, I get comfortable in pre-season and I feel like that’s going to be a very different season than in Ottawa or Columbus where I was thrust into the game right away.”
Duchene isn’t the only player who is benefitting from a change of scenery.
Edmonton’s James Neal has rocketed to the top of the scoring leaders with six goals in three games, while Artemi Panarin has two goals and two assists in two games since joining the New York Rangers.
Of course, not every player who switched teams in the summer has enjoyed a seamless transition. Here are three who are off to rocky starts:
Sergei BOBROVSKY, Florida
The Panthers are 1-2-0 and it’s not hard to see why. Bobrovsky, who was pulled after allowing four goals on 14 shots to the Hurricanes on Tuesday, has a .859 save percentage after three games.
Milan lucic, calgary
While Neal has given the Oilers some much-needed secondary scoring, it’s the same old for Lucic, who has no points, is a minus-1 and has somehow racked up 26 penalty minutes in just three games with the Flames.
Semyon varlamov, ny islanders
Two games in, the Islanders might be wishing they re-signed Robin Lehner last summer. His replacement is 0-2 with a .872 save percentage and was pulled after allowing four goals on 19 shots against the Oilers on Tuesday.
Life in Nashville seems to be suiting Predators centre Matt Duchene just fine.