MINSK, Belarus – After a shootout loss to France, Team Canada is changing some things up for the second game of the IIHF World Hockey Championship on Saturday against Slovakia.
Coach Dave Tippett showed some new lines at Canada’s morning skate at Chizhovka-Arena’s practice rink, including Nathan MacKinnon and Alex Burrows getting a new centre in Brayden Schenn. Alternate captain Kyle Turris centred a line with Jason Chimera and Matt Read; Nazem Kadri, Cody Hodgson and Troy Brouwer stayed together and wingers Jonathan Huberdeau and Joel Ward flanked either Mark Scheifele or Sean Monahan.
“We’re just trying to do some tweaks, make sure we cover all our bases on each line (what) we’re looking for, between power play, penalty kill, things like that,” Tippett said.
Canada outshot France 36-28 before losing in a shootout. On Saturday, Kadri credited French goaltender Cristobal Huet when talking about what lessons he and his teammates learned.
“That was probably one of the better goalie performances that I’ve seen,” Kadri said. “Our goalie stood on his head, too. We just got to come out a little better prepared.”
After James Reimer got the nod against France, Ben Scrivens will start in goal against Slovakia in a game that starts at 8:45 p.m. local time/1:45 p.m. Eastern. It’s the first international action at any level for Scrivens.
“Ben’s worked hard, he’s earned every start he’s gotten,” said Kadri, a former Toronto Maple Leafs teammate of Scrivens. “I’m excited to see what he’s got tonight.”
Tippett said Scrivens was solid in the minutes he saw during Canada’s exhibition game Tuesday against Switzerland in Zurich.
Solid could describe the way France played in beating Canada on Friday in the world championship opener for each team. The Canadians, on the other hand, looked disjointed after just one exhibition game and a few practices to get things together.
It’s not unusual for Canadian teams to start slow at worlds, but there were some key mistakes made against France that have to be corrected moving forward in this tournament.
“We’ve got to be harder around the offensive net, we’ve got to get more people around the net,” Tippett said after studying the tape. “The penalties were not good penalties, especially by veteran players that have to get cleaned up, and just some of the turnovers. Part of it is the top of the end zones are that much shorter, where there’s not near as much space near the blue-line, so you’ve got to recognize that and be better with the puck in those areas.”
Turnovers at the offensive blue-line led to a couple of odd-man rushes the other way, but Reimer bailed his teammates out. He wasn’t able to after a short-handed giveaway in the third period that led to the game-tying goal.
Slovakia returns five players from the Sochi Olympics, including Detroit Red Wings winger Tomas Tatar and Edmonton Oilers defenceman Martin Marincin. France had just one full-time NHL player in its lineup, but Kadri and Leafs teammate Morgan Rielly said that game taught them lessons about the competition they’ll see in this tournament.
“There’s quite a few good teams here that always play hard against Team Canada and each game we’ve got to be ready to play,” Rielly said.
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