(Photo credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)
Matt Duchene has roamed around the league since successfully demanding to get out of Colorado six years ago, but the veteran looks as if he's found a home with the Dallas Stars.
He will have a brief reunion with his former team when Dallas hosts the Avalanche on Saturday night.
The third overall pick by Colorado in 2009, Duchene debuted at 18 and played eight-plus years with the Avalanche before being dealt to Ottawa early in the 2017-18 season. He has played in Columbus and Nashville since but signed a one-year, $3 million deal with Dallas this past summer and has fit in well with the surging Stars.
Duchene, 32, has six goals and seven assists in 14 games but more importantly has found chemistry with Tyler Seguin and Mason Marchment on the second line, a trio that has been the main catalyst in Dallas racing to an 11-3-1 record.
"I've always been a Matt Duchene fan," Stars coach Pete DeBoer said. "But I'd be lying if I said I anticipated he'd be playing at this level this early for us. That's his game, when he's on his game, but boy, he's gotten to that game quickly with us and he's bringing it every night.
"Every time he steps on the ice, he wants the puck and he's attacking and he's dangerous. Just can't say enough about him. He's been consistently probably our best player over the last 2 1/2 weeks."
Duchene has played against his former team many times, including the first round of the 2022 playoffs when Colorado swept the Panthers on its way to the Stanley Cup. Dallas is trying to get to that level, and the quick start has helped fuel that drive.
The Avalanche enter the first of four meetings between the teams on a bit of a roll. They beat Seattle on Monday night and then routed Anaheim 8-2 at home Wednesday night. Coach Jared Bednar said the win over the Ducks was the team's best game, and it came a few nights after the Avs were beaten at home by St. Louis, 8-2.
"That's the gear," Bednar said of the team's effort level. "That's the way I want us to play. I've been waiting for it, and waiting for it, and it just hadn't come out of our team yet. It was a little bit of embarrassment (vs. the Blues), but there's more determination in our game on both sides of the puck."
Colorado had a small scare in Wednesday's win when Cale Makar took a slash to the hand and had an X-ray done during the game, but he is fine, Bednar said. Defenseman Josh Manson (upper body) has missed the last two games and likely will be out again Saturday.
Caleb Jones, brother of Seth Jones and son of Denver Nuggets assistant coach Popeye Jones, has filled in and played well.
"In the two games he's played for us, he's fitting right in," Bednar said after Thursday's practice.
Jones suffered a cut under his eye at Friday's practice, but the team said he should be fine to play Saturday night.
--Field Level Media