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Matt Duchene Needs to Bust His Slump vs. New York Islanders

Why Matt Duchene Needs to Bust His Slump Wide Open

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Matt Duchene Needs to Bust His Slump vs. New York Islanders
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A more jubilant Duchene celebration with Paul Stastny.

COMMENTARY | Matt Duchene is in a slump. There's no sense in denying it. No sense in mincing words. Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Duchene is slumping.

It's been nine games since his last goal, thirteen before that goal. He's been in the minus in his last three games. Official slump.

Matt Duchene needs to bust his slump in Saturday's game against the New York Islanders, and he needs to do it in a big way. We're talking he needs to bust it like he did the mini slump of eight games he had at the end of November. For that one he earned two goals and an assist, plus sunk the puck in during the shoot out.

Duchene needs that kind of night against the Islanders. Hell, I'm saying Matt Duchene needs a hat trick against them. Here's why, and here's a modest opinion of how.

The Colorado Avalanche need the goals.

The Colorado Avalanche have lost their last two games. No one's panicking yet, but they've lost twice in a row now.

Let's face it, if you've been an Avs fan for awhile, you're not going to panic anyway. You're going to get flashbacks of seasons past. You're going to sigh. You're going to imagine the Avs will start tumbling, losing left and right. They've done it so many times before.

It all comes down to scoring goals. The Avs can't seem to do it recently. They've only scored four in the last three games, only three in nine periods of play. And as head coach Patrick Roy put it in his post-game press conference, you can't win games that way, not on the road.

What all this means for Duchene is simple -- he's got to sink the puck in. He's trying. He had five shots on net in the Philadelphia Flyers game, five shots in the awful New York Rangers game. Zero goals, though. The Avs need the goals.

Duchene needs the success.

There's a great Duchene .gif going around, tweeted by Avs_gifs, from that January 18 goal he scored against the Nashville Predators. After the puck goes in, Duchene makes a show of grabbing something over his shoulder and throwing it to the ice - monkey off his back. The statement is clear - the lack of goals had been bothering him, but that goal was a relief. That was nine games ago, though.

Duchene has had a tendency toward tortured hero in the past. He admitted to The Denver Post that he let bad plays on ice really get to him his first couple years in the NHL. He stated, "I had times where I could barely look at myself in the mirror. I was kind of like a duck; I was calm on the outside, but paddling for my life underneath the surface."

Now, it's true he stated in the same Post interview that he's started working with a sports psychologist. He's learning how to forgive himself. If you're the type of person that things get to, though, things are going to get to you. You may have tricks for trying to get them out of your head, but they're going to be in your head to begin with.

Check out that .gif. Lack of goal scoring is getting to Duchene. He needs to bust the slump. And I daresay he, the Avs and even Team Canada need him to do it in the game against the Islanders.

A bit of advice.

I have no idea about the hockey side of things, if he needs to angle his stick differently, pass more, shoot more.

I do know the slump's not for lack of effort. He's putting shots on net. Color analyst Peter McNab has stated that he finds Duchene at practice, shooting, long after the other guys have left the ice. I've noticed at games he's always the last off the ice, after warm up, after each period, after the game. It looks as if he just wants to get in one last practice shot, one last bit of warm-up, a bit more conditioning.

Matt Duchene doesn't need to work any harder. Quite the contrary. I posit Duchene just needs to relax.

As a rookie his favorite goal celebration was the "glass jump," that exuberant flinging of the body at the glass. Recently he's been more prone to the knee slide while pumping his hand ecstatically. Both show his joy in the game. The monkey fling does not.

So, I advise he relaxes and finds his joy in the game again. Teammates Ryan O'Reilly, Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon have had his back for awhile. But they need the real Matt Duchene, the super-fast sniper who can make a goalie look silly, to return. You can't force that. It can only come from love of the game.

Matt Duchene loves the game. It'll happen. We all, Duchene included, just need it to happen Saturday.

Nadia Archuleta is a native Coloradan and professional writer. An Avalanche fan since their beginnings, she has a sports blog, Hockeygrrls on Blogger, and writes content for several websites.

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