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Babcock splits up Crosby and Kunitz for Finland game

Feb 16, 2014, 5:28 AM EDT

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

SOCHI, Russia — Mike Babcock was hesitant to “steal” from one line that’s already working to make another work better, but it appears that’s what Team Canada’s head coach has done ahead of tonight’s game versus Finland.

At today’s pre-game skate, wingers Chris Kunitz and Martin St. Louis were off the first line with center Sidney Crosby, replaced by Jamie Benn and Patrice Bergeron, a pair of wingers that had previously drawn rave reviews from Babcock for their play with center John Tavares.

That Kunitz is off the first line is the most notable move, as it was the chemistry he’d shown with Crosby as linemates in Pittsburgh that — despite what Canada’s management group asserted — was a driving force for his inclusion on the roster.

That said, Kunitz will remain in the lineup, with St. Louis coming out. (Defenseman Dan Hamhuis will also draw back in, with P.K. Subban coming back out.)

“I think Kunitz did real good where he was,” said Babcock. “But to me this wasn’t about Kunitz, it was just about our overall team and just trying to find things that work.”

Babcock also noted he can always put the Benn-Tavares-Bergeron line back together.

“I’ve got those lines set up where the wingers can go back and forth seamlessly,” Babcock said. “Kunitz and Nash can go tonight with Crosby in a heartbeat. So we’ll see what happens.”

The expected lines tonight:

Jamie Benn-Sidney Crosby-Patrice Bergeron
Patrick MarleauJonathan ToewsJeff Carter
Matt DucheneRyan GetzlafCorey Perry
Chris Kunitz-John Tavares-Rick Nash/Patrick Sharp

Related: Team Canada’s net is Price’s to lose

  1. packerswin96 - Feb 16, 2014 at 6:31 AM

    This is BS, Kunitz and Hamhuis should be watching from the stands, not playing in this very important game!

  2. jimw81 - Feb 16, 2014 at 7:10 AM

    lol kuntiz is a eye sore for team canada and it’s gonna hurt them in the long run. I guess Ed Snider was right. :)

    • c9castine - Feb 16, 2014 at 7:50 PM

      if on that team the reason you end up not winning is because chris kunitz a point per game two way NHL player is on the team you have run out of excuses. lot of guys on team canada haven’t done much

  3. buckeye044 - Feb 16, 2014 at 8:12 AM

    The captain is so good they can’t find any linemates for him.

    • einjzmolf - Feb 16, 2014 at 8:18 AM

      The captain has less points than the Finnish backup goalie.

  4. hockeywizardbill - Feb 16, 2014 at 8:37 AM

    why are they trying so hard to baby kunitz?! he has no place on that ice. we need a more forward-looking coach. put duchene with crosby and watch the goals come.

    • pastabelly - Feb 16, 2014 at 9:00 AM

      Bergeron is twice the player Kunitz is.

      • pens5829 - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:12 AM

        Right. Bergeron: 16 goals, 22 assists. Kunitz: 27 goals, 28 assists. Great math skills you have…

      • shaundre93 - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:27 AM

        Any intelligent hockey fan knows Bergerons better. Sorry he doesn’t have two of the best players in the world spoon feeding him goals while he stands in front of the net. Is Kunitz better than Towes too?

      • pens5829 - Feb 19, 2014 at 2:24 PM

        Nice to see Bergeron lighting up the scoreboards this Olympic season…. Come on Phatbelly? Where’s you’re boy Bergeron????

  5. jl9830 - Feb 16, 2014 at 9:49 AM

    Why is Tavares not getting more than fourth-line time? They should give him a shot with Crosby.

    • c9castine - Feb 16, 2014 at 7:51 PM

      this is what happens when you pick an all star team instead of a hockey team.

  6. Hockeyfan - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:17 AM

    This team is a barrel full of possibilities. Must be quite a challenge for Babcock. There are any number of combinations that would seemingly work. Each line has the potential to score big. Tavares on the 4th is great. Leaves him maybe more open with a less then shutdown d pairing especially with Sharp rotating through to set him up. Sounds like a good idea to me

  7. penvik - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:25 AM

    Are most of you nuts?? Kunitz hasn’t looked out of place at all this tournament. Jeff Carter was horrible for two games. Yes even the game he scored a hattrick. He brought down the line in the first game. Anyhow, Sid is playing great, but you will only see that if you know anything about hockey. Babcock just made the first
    Line lethal

    • broadstreetbeatdown - Feb 16, 2014 at 12:21 PM

      Kunitz had more turnovers than team Canada had goals in the game vs Austria. Even the NBC commentators were making remarks about his inability to hold on to the puck. He needs to ride the pine the remainder of the Olympics and someone should smack Stevie Y upside the head for putting this second rate hump on the roster.

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Feb 16, 2014 at 1:59 PM

      You’re an absolute fool if you think Crosby is playing great, he’s playing like he’s scared to screw up, he’s not going to the net, not making aggressive plays instead he’s looking to pass as soon as he gets the puck and when he doesn’t have the puck he’s just skating around not doing much.

      He’s obviously got the talent, I’m not sure if it’s the pressure of having the country “resting on his shoulders” whether it’s only playing 15 minutes a game or something else, but this is two Olympics in a row now where he’s been mostly invisible, aside from the one goal, they keep changing who’s on his line and he can’t get going, at what point do people finally realize it’s not everyone else?

    • therooneyskilledwebster - Feb 16, 2014 at 4:17 PM

      Another delusional pen fan. I apologize for the redundancy.

    • broadstreetbeatdown - Feb 16, 2014 at 7:01 PM

      Ha ha ha. Carter played horrible in a game he scored a hat trick in? Delusional much? That has to be the dumbest thing I’ve heard since these Olympics started. Kunitz had four blatant turnovers in the first period alone. The guy has been a train wreck so far. maybe you should come off of Planet Penguin and join the rest of us on earth.

  8. shaundre93 - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:32 AM

    I’d still like to see JT-Sid-St.louis top line. Play Bergeron with Towes-sharp and you’ll have the best two way capable line ever.

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