SOCHI, Russia – Team Canada isn’t making any last-minute changes for its Olympic semifinal showdown against the United States.
Save for Matt Duchene replacing the injured John Tavares, the lines and pairings are the same as they were in the quarter-final victory over Lativa and from Thursday’s practice.
Coach Mike Babcock was fired up not to have to make any changes.
“I’m pumped,” Babcock said. “We’re starting to look like a team and be like a team and you’re organized like a team and you feel comfortable because you’re not running around trying to do a million things. It’s great.”
Duchene is back in after playing in two of Canada’s first four games. Playing centre on the fourth line is part of the reason he’s not worried about shaking some rust off.
“I’m back at my natural position, which is going to be nice,” Duchene said. “And I played a lot of games on the big ice last year at centre so I know kind of what to expect in terms of that part of it as opposed to maybe playing on the wing.”
Duchene has represented Canada at three world championships, something that could give him an edge in recalling how things went wrong.
“Helps a lot,” he said. “I’ve played a lot of games at Worlds last few years. We’ve had some heartbreaking losses. You kind of have a little chip on your shoulder because you don’t want to feel that again. We’ve had some real heart-breakers there. It’s time to win.”
Having been with this team for almost two weeks now, Babcock couldn’t get a read on his team from a brief twirl at Bolshoy Ice Dome’s practice rink. But that’s nothing new.
“I can’t get a feel in the morning skate in Detroit, either,” he said. “Sometimes I think we’re the (’76) Canadiens and the puck’s going all over and then we don’t do anything and sometimes I think our hands look like feet and we get out there and we play great.
“Now we got to go out, we got a good plan, we got good people, now we got to go out and execute.”
Chris Kunitz – Sidney Crosby – Patrice Bergeron
Jamie Benn – Ryan Getzlaf – Corey Perry
Patrick Marleau – Jonathan Toews – Jeff Carter
Patrick Sharp – Matt Duchene – Rick Nash / Martin St. Louis
Duncan Keith – Shea Weber
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Drew Doughty
Jay Bouwmeester – Alex Pietrangelo
Carey Price – Roberto Luongo
John Tavares (injured) – P.K. Subban – Mike Smith
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