Colorado has a hot scoring line in Matt Duchene, Nail Yakupov and Alexander Kerfoot. Hopefully it stays that way.
The Colorado Avalanche line of Nail Yakupov and rookie Alexander Kerfoot being centered by Matt Duchene is a hot one. They have combined for six goals and six assists in the first four games of the season. That’s more than any other line on the team.
You could argue that they’re the top line, but the Avs have had plenty of “top lines” that didn’t score well.
All three players have talked a little about what it’s like to play with the others. Kerfoot scored his first NHL goal the other night, and one of the first things he did was credit linemate Matt Duchene as well as defenseman Tyson Barrie.
Later, Duchene spoke about playing on a line with the rookie, and he called him a “smart and skilled” player. In a previous interview he remarked on playing with Yakupov, who’s also a playmaker, saying it worked well for him.
What’s fun about this trio is that they’re so fleet of foot — or skate, in this case. We all know how dynamic a skater Duchene is. Well, watch how agile Yakupov is in the goal he scored against the Boston Bruins:
Speaking of Yakupov, he’s off to the best start of his career. In every season except one, he’s recorded three points in his first five games. The one exception is 2013-14 when he recorded zero points. Six games in, the most Yakupov has ever recorded is four points.
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Four games in, he’s already bettered that total with five points. Indeed, those five points are good for first on the team for points and tied for first (with Sven Andrighetto) for goals scored with three.
Duchene’s five points — two goals and three assists — actually means he’s tied with Yakupov in points. That also ties his career-best start, from the 2010-11 season.
Naturally, the two points (one goal, one assist) is the best NHL start rookie Alexander Kerfoot has had.
What’s the reason for this success? Well, it early days, but it really does appear the three complement each other beautifully. It’s not always about having the most skilled linemate. Sometimes, it’s more about creating chemistry.
Duchene is a player who’s being tested right now by the hullabaloo the media is creating. He’s been hounded for two years now about being trade bait to the point where the media even got former Avs great Peter Forsberg to speak up on the topic. (Foppa should have deferred.)
Yakupov is no stranger to being tested, having been called a first-overall bust for years. You add to that the fresh-faced Kerfoot, who’s just trying to figure his way around the NHL — and who has suddenly found himself with two mentors very willing to take him under their wings.
And that fleetness of foot! Not only that, all three are known for being skill players. Here’s an example of Duchene’s stick skills in play on a goal in which Yakupov earned the primary assist:
It’s early days, and this line could cool down as early as tonight against the Anaheim Ducks. (Though I certainly hope not.) Nonetheless, it’s been good to see this trio get off to such a strong start.