After spending two weeks competing in the Olympics, the Colorado Avalanche’s four Olympians returned to practice Tuesday. Each represented a different country. Each had a different experience. Each told a different story
Two of the four came home from Sochi with medals hanging proudly around their necks. The other two came home empty-handed, with disappointing finishes.
Matt Duchene captured gold with Canada, beating Sweden in the finals; thus forcing Gabriel Landeskog to settle for silver. Both Paul Stastny and Semyon Varlamov saw their teams eliminated by Finland, with the former and the United States losing in the bronze medal game and the latter representing Russia, who lost in the quarterfinals.
After competing against each other, Duchene, Landeskog , Stastny and Varlamov are reunited with the Avs, and are ready to get back to work.
The Avs play the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday. In the meantime, here is a breakdown of each of their Olympians performance in Sochi.
Matt Duchene (CAN)
Playing on Canada’s fourth line with Rick Nash and Patrick Sharp/Martin St. Louis in the elimination rounds and Ryan Getzlaf and Cory Perry in the preliminaries; Matt Duchene also a healthy scratch for two games.
He did not produce any points in his limited minutes, but he didn’t have to for undefeated Canada. The youngest member of the team at 23, Duchene still seemed a bit snake-bitten when shooting the puck. That being said, the other aspects of his game looked good.
His passing was crisp, his skating fast and he was also able to control the play behind the net for Canada, either by pressing up against the boards or using his elusive spin moves.
A plus-one in the tournament, Duchene can now proudly call himself an Olympic champion. More importantly for the Avalanche, he got a taste of winning at a high level; which may come in handy considering how little NHL playoff experience the team has.
Gabriel Landeskog (SWE)
Like Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog was the youngest player on his Olympic team. Despite his age (21), he was named an alternate captain for Sweden.
Landeskog did register an assist, but scoring was not why he made the team. Leadership, truculence, defensive acumen, physical play; these are the reasons Landeskog was on the roster; and he provided all of them.
He could often be found putting opposition players onto their backs with big checks, or in scrums after plays. He had four penalty minutes and was a plus-one in six games en route to the silver medal.
"It was certainly special to get an Olympic medal hung around your neck," said Landeskog.
Paul Stastny (USA)
Unfortunately that is all the scoring Stastny would do. Centering what could be considered the Americans second defensive unit on a team that liked to use all four lines, he was counted on more in his own zone.
Offensively he and big-bodied linemates T.J. Oshie and Max Pacioretty mainly would cycle the puck down low to grind down the other teams’ defensemen. He did however, have the United States’ best scoring chance (aside from penalty shots) during their semifinal loss to Canada, but failed to lift the puck over Carey Price’s pad.
He had an even plus/minus rating in the tournament for the Americans, who finished in a disappointing fourth place.
Semyon Varlamov (RUS)
Goaltender Semyon Varlamov split time in the Russian net with Sergei Bobrovski and many used Varlamov as a scapegoat when he allowed three goals and was pulled during Russia’s quarterfinal loss to Finland.
With a goals against average of 1.98 and a save percentage of .911, it was hardly Varly’s fault they lost. In fact, they do not defeat Slovakia in the prelims if Varlamov isn’t masterful in both the game and the shootout to record the shutout.
He had a porous defense in front of him, and did not get much offensive support in his three games. Still, his numbers were respectable. Although there were a couple goals he would probably like back.