Colorado Avalanche Forward Matt Duchene Needs to Find Chemistry

Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Duchene is still without a point in his first three games, and the coaches need to find the man some line chemistry.

Matt Duchene struggled for the Colorado Avalanche at the start of last season, and that struggle could be somewhat contributed to a lack of line chemistry. That can’t happen again this season.

So, who could be Duchy’s Pokey? The dependable horse that Gumby relies on? The two-man punch that reminds Avs fans of the Ryan O’Reilly and Duchene line?

Even though Duchy is now playing the wing, he still takes a lot of draws, and creates his most productive chances working along the boards behind the net.

Thus, he might as well still be a center, and he even mentioned his “hybridity” at forward when the season began:

Anyway, it all really boils down to the fact that Duchene needs a dependable linemate, one he can develop chemistry with no matter what position that individual plays.

Enter Mikko Rantanen.

Mikko Rantanen Needs a Call Up

I’m going to keep this nice and simple folks, it’s going to be time to call up Mikko Rantanen when the Avs return from this road trip. Even though I lobbied for his demotion to the AHL to start the season on account of conditioning — which ended up happening — I say it’s time to yank that cord and send the man in.

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John Mitchell is staying in Denver for the duration of this road trip; however, he’s been skating on his own for a few days.

That doesn’t mean he’ll be ready to go when the Avs return for their single home game on October 28 before heading back on the road, but it seems likely.

Even if Mitchell returns, the Avs will still be within the 23 man limit on the roster. However, if the Avs were to call Mikko Rantanen up, then Ben Smith would likely get the push to the AHL.

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Rantanen has only played two games in the AHL so far so he probably needs a few more games for conditioning. However, if the Avs do decide to call Rantanen up for the home game on October 28, then he should have at least 5 games of AHL conditioning based on the schedule of the Rampage.

But, why would they even consider calling him up?

Mikko Rantanen’s Positional Versatility Good Fit for Matt Duchene

Mikko Rantanen can play both wings, and the center position. He’s a horse — like Pokey — in that he’s a big body and can play in the gritty areas. Yet, Rantanen is also agile and has some real nice hands. He’d be a perfect fit on a line with Duchene.

I don’t pretend to know what that would mean for either Carl Soderberg or Mikhail Grigorenko. However, I would like to see Soderberg back with Blake Comeau in a third line scoring role. And I think that Grigs, Rants and Duchy would make a real good line as any one of them can play wing or center depending on the situation.

Nonetheless, Duchy at center on that line would be preferable because of his experience. These are just speculations, but there is fact in Duchy’s lack of line chemistry since the departure of O’Reilly.

Let’s face it, Nathan MacKinnon is slowly becoming the No. 1 center. And, even though Jarome Iginla is dragging that line down a bit, the chemistry with Gabe Landeskog is there.

Duchene would make a real formidable 1b center, allowing him greater offensive leeway on the account of a tapered defensive responsibility.

And Rantanen’s versatility to play either wing — and even center if the scenario demands it — would give Duchene a ton of freedom in the offensive zone.

Conclusion

It’s obvious that Duchene needs some sort of jump. I know it’s early, but I haven’t found Duchene’s linemates that fascinating yet.

I was at first intrigued by the Grigs Soda Duchy line, but now I am starting to reconsider. Soda just might be better suited to situational offensive scenarios, and a third line scoring role. He should obviously be kept on the power play, but a reunion with Comeau might do Soda some good.

At the same time, Duchene would benefit from the help of an offensive winger, and a move back to the center position. Anyway, that line would still be able to situationally rotate players in and out of the center and wing position.

It might be too soon to consider calling Mikko Rantanen up, but some action needs to be taken in order to facilitate Duchene’s production.

That solution might not be within the scope of Rantanen’s capabilities, but there is no harm in trying. The Colorado Avalanche are light — to say the least — on wing depth, and Mikko Rantanen could help to add some offensive depth to the top six.

The bottom six looks legitimate for the Avs right now, and Rantanen would only help to add to that depth no matter where he plays in the lineup.

It’s time to consider it folks, it might not be time to enact it, but Duchene needs some more talent on his line, and Rantanen might be able to be his Pokey.

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