The Burgundy Letter
by Martin Krantz on 10/17/11 at 04:26 PM ET
With a 4-1 start to the season and four straight wins on the road, the Avs are looking like a potential playoff team right now. Semyon Varlamov is providing the defence with a newfound sense of security, and even though the team let in five goals against the Canadiens on saturday, none of them could really be blamed on Varly. The Canadiens game was a good test for the team after having beaten the Senators 7-1. Montreal was a constant threat during the game. I thought they had great speed, a good transition game, and put in a strong effort around the crease. In a wild contest, both teams showed that there was no quit in them, as they both came back from deficits. The first line with Kobasew, Stastny and Jones had a big game.
As the team prepares to face the Toronto Maple Leafs today, I’d like to see Matt Duchene step up his game a notch.
Now - don’t get me wrong. Stat-wise, Duchene hasn’t been horrible. He had a secondary assist on the only goal scored in the Bruins game (1-0), and a goal and an assist versus the Senators. However, he left the ice without a point against Detroit, Columbus and Montreal. And his only two-point game so far was against one of the worst teams in the NHL right now. And I was very disappointed with his play against the Montreal Canadiens this saturday. In a game that should have suited him well (up-tempo game where the Avs and Canadiens traded scoring chances), against a defence with several injuries and a bit on the small side, he was nearly abysmal. He seemed to lack his normal speed and confidence, and I only noticed him at the times when he gave the puck away throughout the night. He had zero shots on goal, and only one hit.
As a comparison, I noticed Gabriel Landeskog (I love the american pronunciation of his name. It’s not an O like the one in “hockey”, it should be an O like in “too”. Lande-skoog.) who didn’t have a very good game offensively either. But he was backchecking hard, had solid positioning in his defensive game and got in three hits and four shots on goal. Even though Landeskog is on the third line, he played 19 minutes (same as his center Ryan O’Reilly) while Duchene only got 17 minutes of ice-time. I haven’t heard anything about an injury to him, so seeing the second line being used against the Canadiens as pretty much the third line is a strong confirmation that Joe Sacco wasn’t terribly happy with their play either.
In what is supposed to be his break-out year, where he is expected to put up 70-80 points, Matt Duchene needs to get over his tendency to have slow starts to his seasons and get going. Hopefully he will do so tonight against the Maple Leafs.
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