Burgeoning Avalanche superstar Matt Duchene is 5-foot-11 but uses a hockey stick that could be sized for a bantam. That's ages 13-14 in hockey terms, and most kids at that level are well under 5-11.

With skates on, the butt end of Duchene's stick is about six inches under his chin, which is about six inches shorter than what is sized at any hockey retail store. Duchene, 22, copied good friend Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins in going with a short reach, and he is loving the results.

Duchene leads the Avs with nine goals, third in the NHL, in the best stretch of his career.

"I'm really liking the way I'm shooting the puck," said Duchene, who tied Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg and Chris Stewart for the franchise record for goals in October. "Every time I'm letting it go, I feel like it has a chance to go in. Even if it doesn't, it gives you confidence."

Crosby, also 5-11, leads the league with 20 points, and he and Duchene use cut-down Reebok sticks with a light flex. The more a stick is cut down the stiffer the flex from its original flex, so getting good "whip" on a short stick requires a light flex. Duchene has gone down to an 80 flex, after using 95 and 110 in previous seasons.

Duchene copied Crosby's stick length, cutting it "four or five inches under what he had. I took his stick, marked it off on one of mine and cut it to the exact same length, and I've stuck with him ever since."