Colorado Forward Matt Duchene Will Likely Play Wing; Adds Versatility

Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports /

Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Duchene returned to practice today, and was playing his off-wing (right wing) on a line with Gabriel Bourque and Nathan MacKinnon.

Matt Duchene returned to practice for the Colorado Avalanche on Monday, and Jared Bednar had him playing his off-wing on a line with MacK and G. Bourque.

To me, it always came down to either MacK or Duch playing wing, and I figured that it would be Duchene who took the job because of his face-off skills.

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Nonetheless, I did make mention of the benefits associated with Duchy playing his off-wing. Furthermore, MacKinnon and Duchene were always likely to switch between wing and center depending on various face-off scenarios anyway.

This is where things get really interesting folks because having both a right-handed center and a left-handed center on the same line provides a wealth of variability. And, depending on how successful this experiment is, coaches might consider experimenting with this hybridity more often.

The versatility of having MacKinnon and Duchene on the same line

First of all, depending on what dot the face-off is happening on, the Avalanche can deploy a right-handed MacKinnon or a left-handed Duchene for added advantage in both the offensive and defensive zones.

Deciding which handedness to use on what side of the ice is not really that easy of a decision to make. It really all depends on if you want to win the puck back to open space or along the boards. Or even what handedness the defenseman you’re winning back to is. It also depends on the handedness of the individual you’re taking the draw against as well.

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However, there are some pretty general rules of thumb. Like a lefty should likely take the draws on the right side of the ice because they can win the puck back to open ice (with a backhand stance obviously). And, the defenseman they’re winning back to will likely be lefty as well and can dish the puck quickly to open ice on the left wingers side. Vice versa for a righty (backhand stance again).

The rest depends on forehand or backhand face-off stance and what stance and handedness your opponent is as well as other strategies in the dot obviously.

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Another thing to keep in mind is that Duchene and MacKinnon can play wing depending on differing scoring scenarios or defensive situations. The hybridity is truly genius. Here’s what Duchene had to say about it, according to the Denver Post.

"It looks like I’ll probably start there [wing]. Obviously, I can play right wing and center, so I’m equally as comfortable now. I played most of last year at right wing and I know what I’m doing, I’m down low, I can still take draws. I’ll kind of be a hybrid probably this year."

Finally, the most exciting and yet simple part of having MacK and Duchene on the same line is speed, pure unadulterated speed.

Anyway, with two centers of opposing handedness on the same line Bednar is left with a wealth of options depending on the extreme variability of scenarios inevitably part of any hockey game.


This is an exciting development because Duchene and MacKinnon were both extremely successful when they played together last season. Also, the two know how to drive the play and possess the puck below the goal line.

Furthermore, as the discussion above notes, Duchene and MacKinnon on the same line provides Bednar with two extremely capable centers on the same line. Having those centers on the same line also adds to the variability with which that line will be able to approach the game at any given moment.

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Obviously it’s still early in training camp, but playing Duchene and MacKinnon on the same line has always been a good idea. Also, with a sizable sample from last year, it’s not like Bednar would be making that decision without a foundation.

There’s still no telling whether or not the two will actually open the season playing together, but if they do who will be on their wing? Surely it won’t be G. Bourque right? He’s not a top six player in my opinion. And, you would think that Mikhail Grigorenko’s success in the preseason so far would help him get a spot on that line.

Time will tell… Time will tell.

That’s all for today folks. Thanks for stopping by.