Duchene’s learns to handle “ups and downs”

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Dealing with injuries is part of being an NHL player, but it’s obviously something you have to learn about the hard way. After missing just three contests over his first two NHL seasons, Matt Duchene has had to figure out how to recover from and play with significant injuries. He’s been using a metal brace on his left knee for months and has been taping up his right ankle for weeks.

That’s perhaps part of the reason why his role with the team has been limited lately and he only has one goal and three points in his last 17 games. Duchene’s injuries and struggles are part of the reason why the Avalanche are on the brink of being mathematically eliminated from the hunt for a playoff spot. The silver lining is that the experience may have helped Duchene grow as a player and that’s good for the franchise in the long run.

“I’ve become a way better pro this year. I think it’s helped me be able to play in these circumstances, even though I probably shouldn’t be. But it’s been tough. I’m wearing things on my body I’m not used to,” Duchene said Monday. “But I’ve learned about how to deal with the ups and downs of being a pro. I used to think any (setback) like this was the end of the world. Now I think it could be a blessing.”

Duchene added that he should be 100 percent by training camp.