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Babcock thinks Crosby and Kunitz ‘do a lot of good things together’

Feb 15, 2014, 4:33 AM EDT

Ice Hockey - Winter Olympics Day 3 - Men's Training Getty Images

SOCHI, Russia — “Do you plan to leave [Chris Kunitz] with [Sidney Crosby]?”

That was the question for Team Canada coach Mike Babcock, and here was his response:

“Well, I’ve got lots of plans, but the day’s young and I haven’t been to curling yet, I haven’t been to the Russian game. We’ll see what happens. We’ve been over and over and over. To me, we want to have the best team. So the stats on any one player don’t matter. And I don’t think they matter that much to the player.”

OK, but how has he liked his top line, featuring the two Pittsburgh teammates, one of whom was already a controversial inclusion on the roster?

“The first line in the last two games has generated a ton of scoring chances. Point-blankers. They haven’t gone in. So, do we worry that much about that, or do we just know good players score in the end? Lots of time in the Stanley Cup playoffs…your best players have no points in the first round. Someone else picks them up. By the time it’s all over, they’re leading the thing in scoring.”

OK, but has he seen the benefit of Crosby and Kunitz being teammates prior to coming to the Olympics?

“Well, I guess from a purely statistical point of view, you’d say no. From the way they’ve played, I think so. I think they do a lot of good things together. But we’re talking about one line; I’m not worried about one line; I’m worried about all the lines. So, to steal from one to make another…one’s going really good and you’re going to wreck that to make…we’ll see what happens.”

After two wins versus Norway and Austria, by a combined score of 9-1, Crosby has one assist (on Jeff Carter‘s goal versus Austria, from passing it to Patrick Marleau, who hit the post before Carter banged it in) and four shots, while Kunitz has no points and three shots.

It’s a small sample size, just two games versus tournament minnows, but as Babcock conceded, statistically the pair hasn’t been successful. And eventually, it becomes about the results.

“I think the chemistry in every single period, every single day we are together, is growing, and guys are starting to feel comfortable together,” Kunitz said after the Austria game, per the Olympic News Service.

“You have to make sure you go out and do the right things every shift and great things will come. It’s one of those things that it is all about the team.”

What will Babcock do tomorrow versus Finland? Tough question; he wasn’t showing his hand much today, despite the probing from reporters. But if they’re given another change together, if Crosby and Kunitz don’t show improvement as a duo, Babcock will have yet another tough decision to make.

  1. mrpinkca - Feb 15, 2014 at 8:13 AM

    As an American, I would urge Babcock to keep Crosby’s comfort goat out there as much as possible. I’m sure he’ll break through and challenge for MVP.

  2. eagles512 - Feb 15, 2014 at 8:28 AM

    Kunitz shouldn’t have been on the team

    • theageofquarrel - Feb 15, 2014 at 8:43 AM

      Neither should of Girlwho, oh wait he isn’t.

  3. jr507 - Feb 15, 2014 at 9:16 AM

    I hate the Flyers but only a Pens fan could compare Limits to Giroux with a straight face.

    Kunitz is the English doppelganger for PA Parenteau – a decent player who will make a name for himself if you surround him with world class players.

    Kunitz wouldn’t be among the top 50 forwards for Canada if not for Crosby

  4. flyerspsu - Feb 15, 2014 at 10:58 AM

    Kunitz was a 25 goal 50-55 point player before he joined the penguins and started playing every shift with Crosby, the fact is Kunitz is just a good player but nothing more and really not even close to a Canadian Olympian

  5. chanceoffleury - Feb 15, 2014 at 12:26 PM

    I think they should try Sharp on Crosby’s line. Kunitz and Sharp are similar players, but Sharp is more of a sniper whereas Kunitz is more of a park his butt in front of the net and clean up the crease type of guy. Both goal scorers, just different types. Toews played really well with Carter and Marleau, so that’s now given you (at least for the time being) another option for Crosby’s line. And it’s still so early in the tournament that most guys should still have the possibility of sitting. Kunitz was a borderline player to begin with, so it’s only fair he takes a game in from the box. But nobody should be giving up on him after 2 games either. Like Babcock said, they’re creating chances, the chances just aren’t finding the net. It doesn’t seem like the only logical option would be to take the one player you know he’s comfortable with off his line after 2 “not excellent” (because neither was bad) games.

    To borrow a quote format from Glen Sather: He doesn’t have the reputation he has because he’s Crosby, he has it because he’s the best. As a Pens fan who has watched him for almost 10 years now, I know that even if it kills him he’ll find a way to get the edge. He’s all about winning in spectacular fashion. Nothing short of that will do. He does his best work when the pressure is on. He’ll make it work.

  6. broadstreetbeatdown - Feb 15, 2014 at 3:51 PM

    Kunitz turned the puck over more times against Austria than both teams combined. He flat out sucked and i agree that he should not be on this team. Before any of you chime in about Giroux or me being a Flyers fan, save it. The guy was just horrendous on the big ice. He keeps that up and team Canuckistan is going to get chewed up by the US. With that said, Crosby, had a pretty strong game and Canada’s D is flat out scary.

    Go USA!!!

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