Matt Duchene, Predators visit Avalanche

NHL

When Matt Duchene wanted out of Colorado, he didn’t hide his desire to be moved.

At the start of the 2018 training camp, he was open about not wanting to be with the Avalanche, the team that selected him third overall in the 2009 NHL Draft.

Duchene got his wish and was sent to Ottawa two months later in a three-team deal that included the Nashville Predators. He is now in his third season with Nashville and leads the team in goals (12) and points (21) heading into a date with the Avalanche on Saturday in Denver.

Both teams were in action Friday night. The Predators posted a 4-2 win over the New Jersey Devils, while the Avalanche dropped a 3-1 decision to the Dallas Stars.

Duchene was 18 when he was drafted, and he made an immediate impact with Colorado. He’s off to arguably the best start of his career this season with Nashville.

He has already doubled his goal output from last season’s 34 games and seems more comfortable in the Predators’ offense.

“It just seems like it’s just more instinctual,” Nashville coach John Hynes said. “Now when he’s in the scoring areas, it’s just more natural, where I felt like last year it was sometimes overthinking it or a little slow or one too many stickhandles. Now, the decision-making is stronger, but I think that comes with confidence in his play.”

Duchene said the quick start to the season won’t make him feel satisfied.

“When things go well, if anything, it makes me hungrier than complacent, especially as I’ve gotten older,” he said. “When you’re younger, you’re just relieved, and as you get older, you just want to keep building on it, so that’s where I’m at.”

Colorado got four players and three draft picks in the deal, and two of those are still with the team. Samuel Girard came over from Nashville and is a top-four defenseman. One of the draft picks, the No. 4 overall pick in 2019 courtesy of the Senators, turned into Bo Byram.

Byram is just a rookie but, when healthy, is also a top-four defenseman. The issue right now is Byram’s head injury that has sidelined him for the last six games. The good news for Colorado is Byram, as well as Nathan MacKinnon, will join the team on its upcoming road trip that starts Wednesday.

Before that five-game swing through the Eastern Conference, the Avalanche will try to bounce back from Friday night’s loss at Dallas that ended their six-game winning streak. Colorado averaged six goals a game during the streak before getting shut down by the Stars.

The winning streak helped shift momentum after a slow start to the season.

“As a team we realized this is a good time for us to get going before a big road trip coming up next week,” captain Gabriel Landeskog said. “Realizing it’s important for us to start climbing the standings. We didn’t have a great first month of the season, but at the same time a lot of new guys, a lot of new faces getting used to the system.”

–Field Level Media

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