The Colorado Avalanche have struggled on the road in their first-round series with the Minnesota Wild, particularly when it comes to generating shots on goal. It probably would help if they had leading scorer Matt Duchene back, wouldn't it? That is a possibility for Game 6 as the Avalanche announced the high-scoring forward will be a game-time decision Monday night.
Duchene was averaging nearly a point-per-game when he went down with a knee injury March 29. The Avalanche seemed pessimistic about Duchene being available for the rest of the series, but as the going got tough, Duchene's recovery apparently got going.
According to Adrian Dater of the Denver Post, Duchene practiced with Ryan O'Reilly and P.A. Parenteau at Colorado's morning skate Monday.
The 23-year-old scored 23 goals this season to go along with 47 assists in 71 games. He also put 217 shots on net and can be devastating to defenses with his incredible speed. Should Colorado get him into the lineup, they're much better up front with a solid core of forwards who have been excellent on home ice, but incredibly ineffective on the road in this series.
Duchene's points were pretty well split between home and road this year with 34 of his 70 points coming away from Pepsi Center this season. That, plus Duchene playing with the added jolt of returning to the lineup could help cure Colorado's road woes in this series.
If he's healthy, he should play, but rushing him back could backfire in the long run. The Avs probably can win this series without him, but he'd undoubtedly make them better, especially in the face of road struggles. This could be a high-risk, high-reward situation for the Avs, but if this series has proven anything, no one can get caught looking too far ahead.
Either way, they are likely to make the Wild sweat it out when it comes to a final revelation on Duchene's status for Game 6. This could even go down to the warmups Monday night. If Duchene is in, it adds another interesting wrinkle to a rather wacky series.