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Matt Duchene Rookie Rewind

A Look Back At The Center's First NHL Campaign

Thursday, 05.27.2010 / 10:15 AM / Features
By ColoradoAvalanche.com - Official Site of the Colorado Avalanche
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Matt Duchene Rookie Rewind
Matt Duchene did just about everything that could be expected of him during the 2009-10 season. The center led all NHL rookies in scoring with 55 points (24g/31a) while playing in 81 contests, becoming just the second Avalanche player to win the rookie scoring title (Milan Hejduk also accomplished the feat in 1998-99).

The following is a look back at Duchene’s rookie campaign in Colorado.

Draft Day – June 26, 2009
Colorado found itself in an unfamiliar position at the 2009 NHL Draft. After an injury-plagued 2008-09 campaign, Colorado ended up with the No. 3 overall selection in Montreal. After the New York Islanders tabbed John Tavares with the No. 1 overall pick and the Tampa Bay Lightning selected Victor Hedman at No. 2, the Avalanche grabbed Duchene, a center from the Brampton Battalion of the Ontario Hockey League.

Duchene became the Avs’ highest draft pick since the team moved to Denver, and the franchise’s highest selection since 1991 when the Quebec Nordiques selected Eric Lindros first overall.

NHL Debut – Oct. 1, 2009
Following a strong training camp, the Haliburton, Ontario native earned a spot on the Avalanche’s roster and made his NHL debut in the season opener against the San Jose Sharks.

In addition to being his first NHL contest and the jersey retirement night of one of his childhood idols - longtime Avalanche captain Joe Sakic - the night was also memorable for Duchene because of his play on the ice. The rookie picked up his first career NHL point by assisting on John-Michael Liles’ power-play goal in the second period of Colorado’s 5-2 triumph over the Sharks.

First Goal – Oct. 17, 2009
It may have taken a little longer than he himself expected, but Duchene netted his first career NHL tally in fashion.

In his eighth game as a professional, the 5-foot-11, 200-pound forward scored a big goal during Colorado’s 4-3 come-from-behind shootout victory over the Detroit Red Wings. With the Avalanche trailing by a 2-1 count in the third period, Duchene skated up the right wing and unleashed a hard wrist shot from the top of the right circle that beat Detroit netminder Chris Osgood to the far side.
 
Multiple Times – Nov. 30, 2009
It was around this point in the season when the rookie really started to heat up. After totaling 10 points (3g/7a) in his first 25 games, Duchene recorded 45 points (21g/24a) over his last 56 contests.

In Colorado’s Nov. 30 game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, his 28th contest of the season, Duchene lit the lamp twice for his first career multi-goal game. The first tally put Colorado up, 1-0, at 8:16 of the first period and stood up as the game-winning goal in the Avalanche’s 3-0 triumph. For good measure, he added a power-play goal to make it a 2-0 contest with 6:22 remaining in the middle frame.

Make It Two – Dec. 2, 2009
During Colorado’s very next game, Duchene again netted a pair of goals and added an assist in a 6-5 loss to the Florida Panthers. After scoring a power-play goal in the middle frame, Duchene again tallied with 53 seconds remaining as the Avalanche mounted a furious comeback to force overtime.

In the process, he became the first 18-year-old with consecutive multiple-goal games since Florida’s Radek Dvorak accomplished the feat in November 1995. Duchene also joined T.J. Hensick as the only first-year players in Avalanche history to record back-to-back multi-goal games.

For his efforts, Duchene was also named the NHL’s Third Star of the Week for the Nov. 30-Dec. 6 timeframe.

December Honors
Duchene gained some additional recognition midway through the season, as he was named the NHL Rookie of the Month for December after leading all rookie scorers with 13 points (5g/8a) in 14 games. In addition to his three-point game against Florida to open the month, Duchene also had multi-point efforts on Dec. 19 versus Columbus (2a) and Dec. 31 at Detroit (2a).

Duchene became the first Avalanche player to win Rookie of the Month honors since Paul Stastny in February of 2007.

20-Goal Plateau – Feb. 12, 2010
Posting his fifth multi-goal game of the 2009-10 season, Duchene’s two tallies were all the Avs needed in the club’s 2-1 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes. The rookie banged home the rebound of a Chris Stewart shot midway through the first period and then tipped in a Brett Clark point shot for the game-winning goal with 4:33 remaining in the third period.

The goals, Duchene’s 19th and 20th of the season, put him in some elite company. He became just the fifth rookie in Avalanche history to reach the 20-goal plateau, joining Marek Svatos (32 in 2005-06), Paul Stastny (28 in 2006-07), Wojtek Wolski (22 in 2006-07) and Chris Drury (20 in 1998-99).

Two More – March 9, 2010
The center collected his sixth and final multi-goal game of the year on March 9 during a 6-4 loss to the Vancouver Canucks at Pepsi Center.

Duchene opened the game’s scoring with his 22nd goal of the season 6:17 into the first period and followed that up by netting a power-play tally 7:09 later. It was the 10th power-play goal of the year for Duchene, who would go on to finish second among NHL rookies in that category.

Shootout Winner – April 6
In one of the defining moments of Colorado’s 2009-10 campaign, Duchene found himself in a position young hockey players dream about during a late-season game.

The Avalanche and Vancouver Canucks headed to a shootout tied 3-3 after 65 minutes of play. Three Vancouver shooters and two Avalanche players had all missed on their shootout attempts, and Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco tabbed the rookie to take Colorado’s third attempt. The pressure was heavy – not only was the game on the line, but Colorado could also clinch a postseason berth with a victory. Showing poise beyond his years, Duchene beat Roberto Luongo stick side to send the Avs to the playoffs.

Playoff Debut – April 14, 2010
After helping the Avalanche reach the postseason, Duchene suited up for his first playoff game on April 14 during the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the San Jose Sharks.

Just like in his first regular season contest, Duchene picked up an assist during his postseason debut against San Jose. The rookie earned the primary assist on John-Michael Liles’ power-play goal in the second period during the Avs’ eventual 2-1 victory in Game One.

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