The Colorado Avalanche will be heading into the NHL Playoffs in April without their leading scorer Matt Duchene. The club announced Monday that the center will be out of action for approximately four weeks due to a sprained medial collateral ligament in the 23-year-old’s left knee.

Duchene had played in 71 games this season when he was injured and had 23 goals and 47 assists for 70 points.

He suffered the injury in a 3-2 home win against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday when he collided with teammate Jamie McGinn on his very first shift of the game.

Colorado head coach Patrick Roy confirmed the injury and said that team doctors informed him that Duchene will be out for at least four weeks and will then be reevaluated after that.

This means the player will be sidelined for the final eight regular season contests and is also likely to miss the first round of the postseason as well.

After the injury, Duchene took to his Twitter account and wrote, “The thought of not playing in the first round for me has been devastating. We have outstanding medical and training staff that will be helping me get healthy ASAP. I will be doing everything in my power to be ready for Game 1. And if not then, shortly after.”

McGinn said that he and Duchene were both trying to get out of each other’s way while going for the puck, but they just happened to collide and it was a freak injury.

The Avalanche have been one of the better teams in the NHL this season and had a 47-21-6 record when Duchene was injured. They’ve already clinched a playoff spot and will be competing in the postseason for the first time since the 2009-10 season.

Roy said his team will obviously miss Duchene’s scoring touch and overall fine play, but the club has been finding a way to win games ever since the season started and they’ll continue to find a way to win with Duchene out of the lineup.

The coach added that the team managed to win the cup back in the 2000-01 season even though star player Peter Forsberg missed the playoffs with a spleen injury.

Roy said Duchene’s injury means other players will have a chance to shine and earn more ice time. He believes the club has the depth and the players all have confidence in their abilities to succeed.

Roy said that rookie center Nathan MacKinnon will take over from Duchene on the team’s top line with at center left winger Ryan O'Reilly and right winger McGinn. Paul Stastny will play between left winger Gabriel Landeskog and right winger John Mitchell on the second line.

MacKinnon said he’s played with O'Reilly and McGinn before and hopes to be able to create some chemistry with his wingers. MacKinnon is a natural center, but has played most of the season as a right winger and leads all NHL rookies in scoring with 23 goals and 33 assists for 56 points in 74 games.

Roy added that the players can’t use Duchene’s injury as an excuse. They have to pull together to make sure they head into the playoffs in top form and gain home-ice advantage with a strong finish.

There was some good news for the Avalanche as right winger PA Parenteau should return from a knee injury before the season’s over on April 13. He’s been out of the lineup since March 10.


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