Avalanche to face Bruins without top scorer Duchene
The Colorado Avalanche got a much-needed win against Winnipeg on Friday, but it came at a price.
Leading scorer Matt Duchene is out for Sunday's game against the Boston Bruins and could miss a few more games. Duchene took a stick in the eye area in the second period of the 3-2 overtime win over the Jets and is experiencing concussion-like symptoms.
He didn't take part in practice Saturday and will be further evaluated Sunday before the 5 p.m. MDT start for the game against the Bruins.
"Tomorrow will be a big day, see how he comes in and then we can kind of go from there," Avalanche coach Jared Bednar told HockeyBuzz.com on Saturday. "He's day to day at this point, so we just have to see if he feels good and can skate, and then he'll probably have to do another test to see if he's able to play or not."
Duchene has been centering Colorado's top line between Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen. MacKinnon will move to center. Gabriel Landeskog, who skated with MacKinnon and Rantanen at practice Saturday, is expected to take over at left wing for Sunday's game.
"He's one of our best players and we rely heavy on him," Landeskog said of Duchene to HockeyBuzz.com. "Other guys have to step up. Really, that's the bottom line. Matt's been playing a lot of minutes in all different situations, but we have a lot of confidence in the group that we have in here. It means that we have to find ways to win hockey games without him."
The Avalanche take on a Bruins team that is coming off a 2-1 win at Arizona on Saturday night. Boston has been up and down this season but is encouraged by the play of 20-year-old forward David Pastrnak, who is having a breakout season after two underwhelming campaigns.
He continued his strong play with another goal against the Coyotes, his 10th of the season
"Last year I was worrying about all that stuff...about making a mistake," Pastrnak told CSNNE.com. "Now I know I'm going to play the right way. The mistakes are going to be there. Everybody makes mistakes. But I'm trying to limit them. I'm just trying to play the right way every single game."
Pastrnak has nearly matched his career high in goals, 15, in the first 15 games of the season. He told CSNNE.com that the work he put in Boston over the summer helped him.
"The five weeks I spent here working out with the guys from the team really helped," Pastrnak said. "Right now I feel pretty good. On the ice I feel stronger and way heavier. So far I feel good and just want to keep it going."
He and the Bruins face a Colorado team struggling to find consistency. The three goals the Avalanche scored Friday were their most in six games. Losing Duchene won't help the offense get back on track. Colorado will also be without right winger Blake Comeau, who will miss his fourth game with a groin injury.
"This groin thing's been going back and forth for him," Bednar told HockeyBuzz.com. "So I think the plan for him is to have three or four good days of skating and when he feels real strong and explosive, then get him in the game, so something's not acting up on him again."