Duchene close but won't play in Game 5

DENVER -- Matt Duchene had his first full skate with the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday morning, but he still wasn't cleared to return.

Avs head coach Patrick Roy said Duchene would not play in Game 5 Saturday night.

"It was his first day skating with the team," Roy said after the morning skate. "We'll see after how it was [for him]. I'll tell you more tomorrow."

Duchene has missed the last 12 games recovering from a knee injury suffered March 29 versus the San Jose Sharks. As per Avalanche team policy with injured players, Duchene wasn't available to speak Saturday.

The Avs' offense can certainly use him back in the lineup, with Colorado limited to one goal in the last two games in Minnesota and generating very little shot-wise or chance-wise.

If there aren't any setbacks, I'd bet Game 6 in Minnesota would be a possibility for Duchene, who led the Avs in scoring with 70 points (23-47) in 71 games this season.

Meanwhile, Roy said the only lineup decision he has to make is whether he'll dress Paul Carey or Joey Hishon for Game 5. Hishon played in Game 4 on the fourth line.

The big focus for Colorado is getting out of its own end, where the Avs were bottled up by an aggressive Wild forecheck in those two losses.

"Yeah, definitely, they come hard on the forecheck," Avs blueliner Nate Guenin said Saturday morning. "It's something we have to do a better job, both D and forwards, it's working together and make strong, hard plays."

Colorado's transition game has been a strength all season, so it's certainly been surprising to the Avs to get bottled up like that.

"We didn't generate much speed in those two games and that’s the name of our game, playing with the puck and attacking with speed," said Guenin. "They did a heck of a job on us in those two games. Now, we’re back at home and it's time to play our game."

Wild head coach Mike Yeo said there would not be any lineup changes for Game 5.

Neither team really showed lines at their morning skates, but here’s what is most likely for combos for Game 5:


Zach Parise-Mikael Granlund-Jason Pominville

Matt Moulson-Mikko Koivu-Charlie Coyle

Nino Niederreiter-Erik Haula-Justin Fontaine

Dany Heatley-Kyle Brodziak-Cody McCormick


Gabriel Landeskog-Paul Stastny-Nathan MacKinnon

Jamie McGinn-Ryan O’Reilly-P.A. Parenteau

Max Talbot-Marc-Andre Cliche-Cody McLeod

Patrick Bordeleau-(Joey Hishon/Paul Carey)-Brad Malone