Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene(notes) is on a mission this season to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump, after a strong rookie campaign (55 points) put him in the final three for the Calder Trophy.
There are many reasons to believe the No. 3 overall pick in 2009 will improve rather than regress in Year 2. Like, for example, possessing the offensive skills to absolutely embarrass a goaltender in the shootout, as he did in Monday night's Burgundy and White game at the 1st BANK Center in Broomfield:
In the third period, much more visibly, Foote and Duchene got into it at the other end of the ice which resulted in Foote doing a 2-handed helmet rip off of Duchene's head. This is the built up aggression that comes out when you live with someone for a year. Also, Duchene you're probably grounded for the next week or so. Next time you'll remember to take out the trash.
Here's the altercation:
Sort of takes the drama down a notch when we all know Duchene could out-race Foote while wearing one skate.
The highlight of the night, for me, was seeing a nasty skirmish between Duchene and Foote in the third period. They got tangled behind the net, Footer ripped Dutchy's helmet off and Dutchy responded with a good hard cross check to the chest. No friends on the ice in hockey. Might be a tough night around the late-night dinner table at Footers, as Duchene will again live in his basement this season.
Uh-oh, better not publicize that fact too much. With Sidney moving out of Mario's house, puckheads have a ton of "living in the basement" jokes locked, loaded and looking for a target ...
Here is Dater's postgame video with Duchene, talking about the game and the altercation:
As we've said before: The Avs are, like the rest of the bottom-10 teams in the Western Conference, practically unpredictable. A home run or a fly out. We could see them build on last season as easily as we could see them slip down the conference standings behind new flavors of the year.
In many ways, it comes down to coach Joe Sacco and goalie Craig Anderson(notes); but if this is Duchene's Stamkos-esque breakout year, then the burden of returning to the postseason gets a lot lighter.