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But his overall impact as a burgeoning leader and catalyst for the team is harder to quantify, although we’re bound to learn more about it in his absence. The Avalanche announced on Monday that Duchene will miss up to four weeks with a knee injury suffered in this collision with teammate Jamie McGinn during the Avs’ win over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday:
Said Patrick Roy after the game: "I'm always a positive person. Obviously, I believe that he's going to be back for the playoffs. This is the way I am. But at the same time, we lost Peter Forsberg after the second round the year we win the Cup (in 2001), and a team is a team. You have to go out there and play hard and find ways to win games. That's what we're going to continue to do."
The Avalanche have 100 points and have clinched a playoff spot. They lead the Chicago Blackhawks by one point for home ice in the first round and have two games in-hand, along with an insurmountable lead in regulation wins (43).
So in that regard, they’re in good shape.
But the season ends on April 13, which in theory means that Duchene might not be ready for the postseason. (Adrian Dater believes this means he's out at least the first round.) As Roy said, he’s seen the Avalanche thrive when missing star players before; but when Forsberg went down, they still had Sakic.
Frankly, Duchene has been more a Sakic-esque heart and soul for this team during this miraculous turnaround season.
Can the Avalanche minus Duchene beat the Blackhawks? If the Blackhawks are down Kane and/or Toews, it gets interesting. But losing Duchene is losing one of the Avs' better puck possession players on a team that lacks it in general.