SOCHI, Russia – Carey Price will start in goal for Team Canada in the final game of the preliminary round against Finland, something coach Mike Babcock figured coming into these Olympics.
“We had a plan coming in and we haven’t changed our plan,” Babcock said. “I’ve said this many times, at the Olympic Games you’re allowed one change.”
Price stopped 19 of 20 shots against Norway. Roberto Luongo, who shut out Austria, will be the backup.
Babcock is allowing himself plenty of changes with the rest of his lineup, as Martin St. Louis will be scratched to make room for Patrick Sharp’s return. Sharp is expected to rotate on the fourth line with Chris Kunitz, John Tavares and Rick Nash.
“These are great players, great people that are committed to us winning a medal,” Babcock said. “It’s all about the medal. … When you win at the end you made the right decisions, if you don’t, you get second-guessed.”
Kunitz being on the fourth line means Babcock pulled the trigger on splitting up Sidney Crosby and his Penguins teammate. Canada’s coach praised Kunitz for playing hard in the first two games.
“I think Kunitz did real good where he was. But to me this wasn’t about Kunitz, it was just about our overall team and just trying to find things that work.”
Crosby gets two new wingers in Jamie Benn and Patrice Bergeron, who played well with Tavares against Norway and Austria.
“Benn, Bergeron and Tavares have been a great line,” Babcock said. “But the great thing about it, is that I can put it back at any time. I’ve got those lines set up where the wingers and go back and forth seamlessly. Kunitz and Nash can go tonight with Crosby in a heartbeat. So we’ll see what happens.”
Tuukka Rask will start in goal for Finland, and Jarkko Immonen will replace the injured Aleksander Barkov in the lineup.
Losing Barkov hurts, but the Finns have plenty of offensive depth. They have scored 14 goals in two games, leading the tournament.
“They’ve been playing some good hockey, been putting up some big goals,” Canadian defenceman Alex Pietrangelo said. “They have a lot of firepower up front and some pretty good skating D back there. When it comes to the goaltending everybody knows how deep they are back there.”
Projected lineup for Team Canada vs. Finland
Jamie Benn – Sidney Crosby – Patrice Bergeron
Matt Duchene – Ryan Getzlaf – Corey Perry
Patrick Marleau – Jonathan Toews – Jeff Carter
Patrick Sharp / Chris Kunitz – John Tavares – Rick Nash
Duncan Keith – Shea Weber
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Drew Doughty
Jay Bouwmeester – Alex Pietrangelo
Carey Price – Roberto Luongo
Martin St. Louis – P.K. Subban – Mike Smith