The Return of Matt Duchene!
No Excuse for the Playoff Run
The return of Matt Duchene will be huge!
The Avs are about to run out of excuses, as Matt Duchene is set to make his return tonight against the Winnipeg Jets. The Avs haven't played in Winnipeg since 1996, and the players seemed really excited for the game. If the Avs want to win, they need to continue what they did last game against Edmonton. We saw the Avs' team we know they can be; playing fast, going to the net, and playing hard defense.
The big guys showed up with Stastny, O'Reilly, and Landeskog picking up points, and newly called up forward Mark (don't call me Oliver) Olver getting a goal and an assist. On top of that, Erik Johnson is playing the best hockey I have seen a defensemen play since Ray Bourque's time with the Avs. Johnson has scored 3 in the last three games and has been a dominant force on the defensive side. Not to mention, goaltender Semyon Varlamov is in a groove, having played well in three straight games. The team is poised to make a run for a playoff spot, but they have to want it. This is a team not built on talent, but youth and speed. They need to forecheck hard and take it to the other team for 60 minutes, and if they do that they are a shoe-in for a playoff spot!
The biggest news of course is Duchene's return to the lineup after more than a month out with a knee injury. Duchene is super pumped to get back and I expect to see him fly like he did two years ago when he first stepped on to the ice during his first game. I have a feeling it could be a great return for him.
The biggest concern, on the other hand, is Peter Mueller still being out with a "torso" injury.
Well it is the turning point for the season, this week will determine if the Avs are sellers or buyers. Lose tonight and it may very well look like the team is going into sell mode.
One new piece the Avs may have to offer is J.S. Giguere, assuming his injury isn't serious. Giguere has had a stellar season with the Avs and could help a contending team with a playoff experienced goalie having one of his better seasons since 2007. The Avs may have to strike while he has value and before he retires. This is going to be a fun ride and I completely expect to be writing about a blockbuster trade for this team just like every year. We will just have to wait and see.