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Duchene believes playing at Olympics will help him during NHL stretch drive

Feb 10, 2014, 11:55 PM EDT

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Matt Duchene Getty Images

Some NHL players are getting a rest with this Olympic break. And some, like Matt Duchene of the Colorado Avalanche, aren’t because, well, they’re competing in the Olympics.

Duchene, the 23-year-old center and third overall draft selection for Colorado in 2009, was selected to Canada’s men’s Olympic team on Jan. 7. The players have arrived in Sochi, and have taken to the ice for practice, with Canada opening its tournament on Thursday.

The workload of playing an extra set of games at the highest possible level in international hockey is something Duchene is looking forward to, more than any break.

“I think it’ll be really good for the guys that go over there, because the load that you carry on those teams isn’t as big as the load we carry on these teams,” Duchene told The Denver Post.

“Mentally it’ll be more of a tiring thing than physically, but for me, I’m really happy, because I hate taking time off and getting out of my rhythm. And being around that kind of high-level hockey, I think it’s really going to help me down the stretch with us.”

The Avalanche are third in the Central Division with 37 wins and 79 points, only five back of both the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks.

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