You can probably say this about a lot of players at this time of year, but Colorado Avalanche star Matt Duchene won’t be at his physical best in Game 7 on Wednesday. Still, he told the Denver Post that he’ll be ready to go against the Minnesota Wild even with that wonky knee.
Duchene, 23, said that this is “one of the hardest injuries to come back from,” yet he also explains why he’s more prepared than ever to make a difference even if his elite speed is curtailed.
“Just to physically and mentally be confident (is difficult). The difference between this time and last time I did this injury is, my game has evolved to the point where I can do more than just use my speed now. I can think the game better, I see it better, I’m a better playmaker … I just want to bring that tomorrow night, and bring as much energy as I can.
“But it’s tough. It’s a mental battle. I’m not 100 percent …”
Duchene managed an assist in Game 6 against the Wild, although he didn’t register a shot on goal and his underlying stats were iffy. Still, even a Duchene at (whatever percent he’s at) could be a useful player for the Avalanche to have as they face tomorrow’s do-or-die challenge.
Last night in Los Angeles, Kings forward Milan Lucic received a match penalty after skating the entire width of the ice to give San Jose’s Logan Couture a two-hand shove to the face.
Lucic didn’t hurt Couture, who had caught Lucic with an open-ice hit that Lucic didn’t like. Couture’s smiling, mocking face was good evidence that the Sharks’ forward was going to be OK.
This morning, Lucic was still in disbelief that he was penalized so harshly.
“I didn’t cross any line,” Lucic said, per Rich Hammond of the O.C. Register. “Believe me, if my intentions were to hurt him, I would have hurt him.”
While Lucic knew he deserved a penalty, he said after the game that he didn’t “know why it was called a match penalty.” His coach, Darryl Sutter, agreed, calling it “a borderline even roughing penalty.”
And though former NHL referee Kerry Fraser believes a match penalty was indeed warranted, Lucic said this morning that he hasn’t heard from the NHL about any possible supplemental discipline.
Nor for that matter has Dustin Brown, after his high hit on Couture in the first period.
In conclusion, it’s good to have hockey back.
Related: Sutter says Kings weren’t ‘interested’ in checking the Sharks
A statement from Raffi Torres:
“I accept the 41-game suspension handed down to me by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. I worked extremely hard over the last two years following reconstructive knee surgery to resume my NHL career, and this is the last thing I wanted to happen. I am disappointed I have put myself in a position to be suspended again. I sincerely apologize to Jakob for the hit that led to this suspension, and I’m extremely thankful that he wasn’t seriously injured as a result of the play. I also want to apologize to my Sharks teammates and the organization.”
A statement from San Jose GM Doug Wilson:
“The Sharks organization fully supports the NHL’s supplementary discipline decision regarding Raffi. While we do not believe there was any malicious intent, this type of hit is unacceptable and has no place in our game. There is a difference between playing hard and crossing the line and there is no doubt, in this instance, Raffi crossed that line. We’re very thankful that Jakob was not seriously injured as a result of this play.”
Silfverberg says he expects to play Saturday when the Ducks open their regular season Saturday in San Jose.