Sochi hockey notebook: Canada seeks goals
By Dejan Kovacevic
Published: Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, 1:51 p.m.
SOCHI, Russia — It's difficult to discern which should be a greater worry for Canada in facing the United States in the Olympic semifinals Friday: Offense or defense?
Forwards have accounted for only six of their 13 goals through four games. The other seven goals have come from defensemen Shea Weber and Drew Doughty.
“It's nice to get that from the D, for sure, but I think we're doing a lot of good things,” said Sidney Crosby, who along with linemate Chris Kunitz is one of nine forwards yet to score. “I think you just trust in what you do. I think as far as the depth that we have, we know that guys are going to put those in.”
Kunitz concurred: “We're getting some quality chances. Just need to find a way to bury them.”
The U.S. has been doing exactly that with a tournament-best 20 goals despite only three on the power play.
“They've been scoring a lot,” Kunitz said. “We're going to have to make sure we're good in our own end.”
Quick vs. Price
Dan Bylsma will stick by Jonathan Quick as the U.S. goaltender, and Mike Babcock will counter with Carey Price.
Bylsma showed no line changes in practice. Canada kept Crosby, Kunitz and Patrice Bergeron together and bumped Kunitz up to the top power play in place of injured John Tavares, who is out for the remainder of the Olympics and NHL season after tearing an MCL and meniscus.
Finns are among the friendliest people anywhere, but it's safe to say they'll face traditional rival Sweden in the other semifinal with a bit of a chip. Hours before Finland beat Russia, 3-1, in the quarterfinal, Sweden coach Par Marts made headlines by predicting a Russian victory.
“Obviously we'll take any extra motivation we can get,” Jussi Jokinen said. “Sweden and Finland, Olympic semifinal, I think we'll be ready to go either way.”
The spectacular goalie matchup on that front: Finland's Tuukka Rask vs. Sweden's Henrik Lundqvist.
Evgeni Malkin was among four Russian players who did not accompany most of their teammates on an NHL-leased charter flight back to North America on Friday.
Malkin, Alexander Ovechkin, Pavel Datsyuk and Alexander Semin agreed to stay for Sunday's Closing Ceremony. For Malkin at least, that was the plan all along.
Polie returning to work
The general manager of the U.S. hockey team and the Nashville Predators said the errant puck to the face two weeks ago has left him unable to see out of his right eye.
David Poile, who wore an eye patch, spoke briefly with reporters Thursday for the first time since being hit Feb. 6 during a pregame skate in Minnesota. The injury prevented Poile from attending the Sochi Olympics, so he has been talking to assistant general manager Ray Shero and coach Dan Bylsma daily.
“All I know is there's substantial damage such to the point that I don't have any sight today and ... they're holding out hope that maybe something will change as the eye heals,” Poile said.
The Associated Press contributed. Dejan Kovacevic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @Dejan_Kovacevic.
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