The Colorado Avalanche’s 2012-13 season had its fair share of ups and downs, but for 22-year-old center Matt Duchene, it was one for the record books.
The young forward from Haliburton, Ontario has been one of Colorado’s most consistent performers since being selected third overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, and that trend continued last year. He led the Avalanche in assists with 26 and was a co-leader in points with 43 (PA Parenteau), averaging .915 points per game, which was by far the highest scoring rate of his career.
The 2012 offseason was a busy one for Duchene, as he changed his diet, which in turn added more strength and agility to his game. The result of his new approach to eating and exercise was 28 points scored in his first 25 games—after a 2011-12 season in which he had only 28 points in 58 games.
"I'm a person who doesn't accept failure, and, personally, I considered my third year (2011-12) a failure,” Duchene said. “I re-evaluated where I was at, and I wanted to take a step in the right direction. I really wanted to take everything to another level, so I hired the best trainer, and I had the year that I had last year. I want to continue to build on that every year."
During the 2012-13 campaign Duchene set a career high for assists in a game with three (March 8 vs. Chicago and April 26 at Phoenix) and also had a four-game goal streak (Feb. 11-18), which matched the longest of his career.
The 24-game point streak of the eventual Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks came to a sudden halt March 8 at Pepsi Center, and Duchene had a lot to do with it. The Avalanche scored four second-period goals in its 6-2 win against Chicago, with Duchene picked up points on three of those four tallies in the middle stanza. He finished with the most assists in the game and tied his career high with four points (a goal and three assists).
“It was pretty special to do it in our hometown, in our city, in front of our fans,” Duchene said of ending Chicago’s streak.
Duchene kept it going with his solid play two nights later against the San Jose Sharks, when he scored the latest overtime goal in franchise history with less than one second (0.03) left in the extra period.
The scoring sequence began after an icing by San Jose resulted in a faceoff in the Sharks’ end with 10 seconds left.
Duchene won the draw back to defenseman Jan Hejda, who passed to Parenteau for a shot. Duchene then won the game when he knocked in the rebound of Parenteau’s shot before the horn sounded, officially at 4:59 of overtime.
It was Duchene’s third career overtime goal, but it might have been his most memorable one to date.
“It feels awesome,” Duchene said that night. “I didn’t think it was going to count. I know the buzzer here sometimes is a little late. Obviously, you’re really excited at first, but [you’re] holding back a bit in case it doesn’t count.”
Since the 2009 draft, Duchene has accumulated 193 points in 266 games over four seasons with Colorado. He has ranked in the top three on the team in points in three of his first four seasons in the league and already ranks 30th all-time in scoring in franchise history.
Duchene is looking to build on his 2012-13 campaign this season and for seasons to come after he signed a five-year extension on July 18, keeping him with the Avs until 2018-19.
"In 2009, I was thrilled to have been selected by the Avalanche, my favorite team," Duchene said. "I have worn this uniform with pride in my first four professional seasons in Denver, and I appreciate the organization believing in me for the long-term future."
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