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Canada’s practice reveals projected lines versus U.S.

Feb 20, 2014, 7:07 AM EDT

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 14: Matt Duchene #9 of Canada gets checked by Gerhard Unterlugguer #4 of Austria during the Men's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round Group B game on day seven of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 14, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. Getty Images

Canada had no choice but to make an adjustment after John Tavares was knocked out of the Olympics due to a knee injury. However, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock chose to keep the alterations to a minimum.

With that in mind, Matt Duchene will draw back into the lineup and take Tavares’ spot as the center of a fourth line that also includes Rick Nash and Patrick Sharp.

“Johnny’s been playing great for us, and hopefully he has a speedy recovery and it’s not too serious,” Duchene told the Canadian Press. “But it’s a big opportunity for myself now, chance to play center, to play where I’m comfortable.”

Beyond that, Babcock didn’t make any alterations to the lines that he used versus Latvia on Wednesday. Canada only managed to score two goals against the Latvians, but they controlled the game, out shooting them 57-16.

With that in mind, here’s what the Americans will likely face on Friday:

Chris Kunitz-Sidney Crosby-Patrice Bergeron
Jamie Benn-Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry
Patrick Marleau-Jonathan Toews-Jeff Carter
Patrick Sharp-Matt Duchene-Rick Nash

  1. pastabelly - Feb 20, 2014 at 7:46 AM

    They may have been better off moving Bergeron to his natural position and center the fourth line.

    • hockey412 - Feb 20, 2014 at 8:30 AM

      I am not cheering for Canada but I actually thought he played well with Crosby and Kunitz last game, their line generated some really good opportunities. He does lose some of his ability to play the two-way game at wing, which is a big loss in his case because he excels at it – but does Canada need better defense or more scoring?

      If the defense can’t stop the US (esp. the Kessel line) then I will agree with you completely in hindsight.

      • pepper2011 - Feb 20, 2014 at 11:47 AM

        depends on how you look at it. If Canada wants to win Bergeron will get substantially more ice time. Crosby should as well. I know crosby and Kunitz have some chemistry, but I am pretty sure Sid would have chemistry with just about anyone. Bergeon too. I’d swap Sharp and Kuntiz.

        Also, Bergeron is no less effective at wing- in this tournament; he may be even more effective. The US’s strength is at wing. Kane and Kessel are the guys that scare you.

        He is great face-off guy. I assume they will do what the B’s do. Have the first guy go in overly aggressive and not really care if he gets thrown out. if he does you have a 2nd guy just as good, if not better.

        rooting for the US, but I am getting a sinking suspicion that the league is finally going to understand how good Bergeron really is. He is the best overall player in the league. His offense suffers because of how the Bruins play and the emphasis put on defense and positioning. Watching him with someone as creative as Sid is going to be fun.
        when I guy like Tavares says he is the hardest to play against; it means something.

      • c9castine - Feb 20, 2014 at 4:39 PM

        maybe now people have some respect for how hard it is to play with Crosby, and that Kunitz is in his own right a good player to be able to do it successfully.

        he thinks and plays the game at a much higher pace that others, you need somebody who knows how to play with that. bergeron is a good fit for that, mainly because of his intelligence…same things that make guys good two way hockey players make them a good fit for crosby.

        thus, you get chris kunitz, pascal dupuis, patrice burgeons and such.

  2. godsmacked1 - Feb 20, 2014 at 7:50 AM

    Wow, US-Canada will be an awesome game. Didn’t see how Tavares was hurt, but with JT going down, time to move Vanek.

    • jl9830 - Feb 20, 2014 at 12:31 PM

      It was already time to move Vanek.

    • hallforpresident - Feb 20, 2014 at 3:33 PM

      That trade made no sense to me IMO, Vanek is a bit better, but certainly not a first and a second round pick better. Now they’re looking to trade Moulson for a similar return that they would have otherwise gotten for Moulson.

  3. earpaniac - Feb 20, 2014 at 12:16 PM

    Damn they are deep!! It looks so strange to see Toews and Sharp as 3rd-4th liners. Lol

    • endusersolutions2013 - Feb 20, 2014 at 1:06 PM

      What amazes me is that htey have not dominated so far. Instead it’s been the US. Pleasantly surprising!

      • lostpuppysyndrome - Feb 20, 2014 at 7:39 PM

        How do you define “dominated?” Simply by goals and the differential? The outshot, out-possessed, and virtually out-everythinged else against their opponents. Everyone all of a sudden thinks Canada is up against the wall because they only won by 1 goal versus Latvia. Latvia played a good enough game but they collapsed on Canada in the neutral zone and were stuck in their own zone for the majority of the game. Their lone goal came as a sneaky player change. Canada is fine. They will play well against the US. Will they win? That’s up in the air. Canada has indeed dominated. This will be their first legitimate challenge though. One that I’m excited to watch.

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