Michael Finewax

Olympic Preview

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Olympic Preview: Pool B

Monday, February 10, 2014






Mike Smith (Phoenix Coyotes - NHL) - Smith is having a bit of an off year and he's expected to be Canada's third-string goaltender at the 2014 Winter Games.  He's played much better going into the Olympic break, though.  During his brief time in the playoffs, Smith has shown that he can play in high-pressure scenarios and he performed very well for Canada during the World Championships last year by posting a 1.65 goals-against average and a .944 save percentage in four games. 


Carey Price (Montreal Canadiens - NHL) - Price has registered elite goalie numbers this season, but he's struggled for some patches.  However, he has righted the ship in time for the Olympics by recording two of his four shutouts in his last six outings.  He has four wins over that span and he's allowed two goals or less in each of those contests.  He has a chance to supplant Roberto Luongo for the number one goalie job by the end of the tournament, but he'll need to shake the stigma that he can't step up in big games before that happens. 


Roberto Luongo (Vancouver Canucks - NHL) - Luongo has been solid in the cage for most of the season, but the Canucks limped into the Olympic break and his play suffered as a result.  He has allowed three goals or more in each of his past five outings and he lost all of them.  Luongo was between the pipes for Canada when the country won Olympic gold in Vancouver and he's expected to start the tournament as the starting goaltender.  However, it's uncertain if he'll have that role by the time the medals are handed out.




Duncan Keith (Chicago Blackhawks - NHL) - Keith has been enjoying a Norris Trophy caliber season in Chicago this season.  He is third in the league with 45 assists and he ranks second among all defensemen with 48 points in 59 games.  Keith's mobility and his willingness to jump into the attack will make him a valuable player on the larger ice and he'll be used in all situations by Canada at the Winter Olympics. 


Shea Weber (Nashville Predators - NHL) - Weber is another Norris Trophy contender on Canada's back end.  He plays physical and he can score, which is evidenced by his 15 goals in 56 games.  His bullet shot will be featured on Canada's power play and he'll probably be matched up against the best lines of the opposition as well.  


Alex Pietrangelo (St. Louis Blues - NHL) - Pietrangelo leads the Blues with 25:26 of average ice time per game.  He is excellent on the power play and he is more than capable of playing in all situations.  Pietrangelo has 41 points in 57 games this season.


P.K. Subban (Montreal Canadiens - NHL) - Subban won the 2013 Norris Trophy but he wasn't guaranteed a spot on Canada's roster for the Olympic Games.  Canada's decision makers were reportedly concerned about his defensive play, but ultimately it was decided that he would be on the team.  Subban is excellent at rushing the puck and his skating ability should be an asset on the Olympic-sized ice. 


Drew Doughty (Los Angeles Kings - NHL) - Doughy can play effectively at both ends of the ice.  He isn't scoring as many points as he did when he first came into the league, but he's still a threat in the offensive zone and he can pick up points to place him among the NHL's top defensemen.  Doughty is also reliable in his own end and he can shut down the opposition's best players.


Jay Bouwmeester (St. Louis Blues - NHL) - The 30-year-old defender has gotten back on track this season.  He's on pace to top 45 points for the second time in his career and he's enjoyed success while being paired with Alex Pietrangelo in St. Louis.  Look for Canada to keep them together in Sochi. 


Marc-Edouard Vlasic (San Jose Sharks - NHL) - Vlasic serves as San Jose's shutdown defenseman and he's flourished in that role.  He is capable of chipping in offensively and he adds further depth to a talented and versatile blueline.


Dan Hamhuis (Vancouver Canucks - NHL) - Hamhuis is a defensive-minded depth blueliner for Canada.  He was dealing with a groin injury heading into the Olympic break but did play Saturday. He could end up spending the greater part of the tournament in the press box.




Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins -NHL) - Crosby netted the "Golden Goal" for Canada the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver when he beat Ryan Miller of the United States in overtime.  He will be looking to lead his country to another golden victory in Sochi as the team's captain.  Crosby leads the NHL with 50 assists and 78 points in 58 games.  Canada's forward group is an embarrassment of riches and Crosby is the best of the bunch.


John Tavares (New York Islanders - NHL) - Canada is so deep at center that Tavares could end up playing on the wing in Sochi.  He is third in the NHL with 66 points in 59 contests.  Tavares is the driving force of the Islanders' offense and he'll put his talents to good use with very talented linemates as a member of Team Canada.


Jonathan Toews (Chicago Blackhawks - NHL) - Chicago's top-line pivot has won plenty of gold as a member of Canada.  He has an Under-17 title, a World Junior Championship, a World Championship and an Olympic gold medal.  During the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, he named the Best Forward of the tournament.  Toews can do it all and he'll be a reliable player at both ends of the ice in Sochi.


Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Ducks - NHL) - The Anaheim captain has 29 goals and 38 assists in 55 matches this campaign and he could line up as bottom-forward on Canada's roster.  It's jaw-dropping to think about.  Getzlaf is on pace to hit 90 points for the second time in his career this season and he'll make an impact in the Olympics regardless of what line he plays on. 


Chris Kunitz (Pittsburgh Penguins - NHL) - Kunitz is enjoying a career year for the Penguins in 2013-14.  He has registered a personal-high of 27 goals already and he has 55 points in 58 games.  His chemistry with Sidney Crosby, in Pittsburgh, probably gave him an edge during the selection process, but he is good enough to stand on his own as well.  He's also played with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry before, so Canada's brass has options if they want to make changes.  However, that likely won't be necessary as Kunitz and Crosby should be an effective pairing for the Canadian Olympic team. 


Patrick Sharp (Chicago Blackhawks - NHL) - Sharp has flourished on a line with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa this season.  He has 28 goals and 58 points in 60 games, which puts him on pace for new personal bests in both categories.  He'll likely stay on a line with Toews at the Olympics and his ability to come up big in key situations could make him a Canadian hero by the time the tournament is over. 


Rick Nash (New York Rangers - NHL) - He has underperformed this season, but he went on a scoring surge after he was named to Canada's Olympic team.  Nash netted nine goals in nine games after hearing his name in Canada's selection news conference.  He has great speed for a big man and he's good defensively, which makes him very hard to handle.  It also makes him a versatile option as he can played anywhere in the lineup and he can play both winger positions. 


Corey Perry (Anaheim Ducks- NHL) - Perry enters the Olympics as one of three NHLers who have hit 30 goals this season.  He isn't on the same level he was when he won the Hart Trophy in 2010-11, but he isn't that far behind.  Perry has 60 points in 60 contests and his grittiness is a key part of his game, which Canada could put to use on a goal-scoring type energy line.  He will also likely play alongside Anaheim linemate Ryan Getzlaf.


Patrick Marleau (San Jose Sharks - NHL) - Marleau has the odd battle with consistency, but when he's streaking in the right direction he is very hard to play against.  He has notched 23 goals and 50 points in 59 games this campaign.  If he can catch fire during the Olympics then his skill and speed will be great assets on the larger ice.  Marleau is also very good at killing penalties. 


Martin St. Louis (Tampa Bay Lightning - NHL) - The veteran winger received his spot on Team Canada because of an injury to Tampa Bay teammate Steve Stamkos.  It isn't clear where St. Louis will slot into the lineup, but he has great speed, good leadership abilities and superb playmaking skills.  His ability to finish off plays is also unjustly underrated, so he could be a strong triggerman as well. 


Patrice Bergeron (Boston Bruins - NHL) - Bergeron is known for being an excellent two-way center, who excels on faceoffs and that will likely be the role he plays in Sochi.  Canada can make use of his defensive skills on the penalty kill and in shutdown roles when they play elite competition.  Bergeron is also capable of holding his own offensively, so he could be a good fit as a fourth-liner for the Canadians. 


Jamie Benn (Dallas Stars - NHL) - Benn has generated 22 goals and 51 points in 58 games this season during his first year as the captain of the Stars.  He has a great shot and plays a rugged style, which makes him an excellent power forward.  Benn will probably be counted on to provide energy and work a cycle game for Canada in the 2014 Winter Olympics. 


Matt Duchene (Colorado Avalanche - NHL) - Duchene's goal production ran dry after he was named to Team Canada, but he scored twice in Colorado's last game before the Olympic break.  He leads the dramatically improved Avalanche in points this season with a total of 50 in 55 matches.  Duchene can play center or the wing and his speed likely helped him secure a spot on Canada's roster. 


Jeff Carter (Los Angeles Kings - NHL) - Carter enters the Olympics on a cold streak, but he has a goal scorer's touch which has helped him record 20 markers and 37 points in 49 outings this season.  Carter has gone through hot and cold stretches this season.  He could end up anywhere from the top line to the press box depending on which version shows up during the Olympics.   

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Michael Finewax is entering his 10th season as the Senior Hockey Writer and Editor for Rotoworld. You can follow him on Twitter @mfinewaxhockey.
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