Team Canada coach Mike Babcock continues to tinker with his line combinations but is sticking with Carey Price in goal.
At practice Tuesday, Chris Kunitz was reunited with Sidney Crosby on a line with Patrice Bergeron. Jamie Benn, who played with Crosby and Bergeron against Finland, was shifted to a unit with the Anaheim Ducks duo of Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.
Patrick Marleau, Jonathan Toews and Jeff Carter remained together. Patrick Sharp and Rick Nash skated with John Tavares while Martin St. Louis and Matt Duchene rotated in and out of lines.
Babcock is keen to settle on his combinations at the Olympic hockey tournament as a quarter-final against either Latvia or Switzerland looms Wednesday.
“We’ve changed our lines, in my opinion — and I was saying that last Olympics — too much. We’re trying to find the right way,” said Babcock. “It’s time to just let them go.
“We think (Benn-Getzlaf-Perry) is an option for us. We’re giving it a run.”
The coach said he liked Benn, Crosby and Bergeron last time out but wanted to shift Benn to Getzlaf’s line to see if he could transfer some of that success. The three have played together before at the world championships.
“We want to use our size and strength to our advantage out there,” said Benn. “We’ve got to find a way to get to the dirty areas in this next game here and find a way to get some greasy goals.”
Babcock said the coaching braintrust mulled over putting Kunitz back with Pittsburgh linemate Crosby. “We could go either way, we debated that. We’re not sure but that’s what we’re doing.”
Babcock said he would announce his two scratches on Wednesday after the morning skate.
P.K. Subban and St. Louis sat out Sunday against Finland.
Babcock also declined to say whether Price would remain his No. 1, offering only that he planned to stick to his routine of announcing his goalie the day before the game.
Price got the nod against Norway and Finland, sandwiched around a Roberto Luongo start against Austria.
The Montreal Canadiens starter has given up two goals on 35 shots and shown little sign of exhibiting a pulse despite been under the Olympic microscope.
Asked if it was easy to isolate himself in the Olympic bubble, Price replied: “I live inside a bubble anyway. I don’t get into too much about what anybody has to say, really.”
Price is used to hoopla, plying his trade under intense spotlight of the Montreal media. NHL or Olympics, his focus is the same.
“Essentially it comes down to the same thing: stopping pucks.”
And Price is good at stripping away things that don’t matter.
“I’ve always been really good on focusing things put right in front of me,” he said. “It really simplifies your mind and helps you focus if you just focus on one thing and try and do really good at that and not worry about anything else.”
Canada won all three games to earn a bye into the quarter-finals. The team has scored 11 goals with six coming from defencemen (four from Drew Doughty and two from Shea Weber).
“We had good chances last game (against Finland) so I can’t take that away from our group,” said Babcock. “But we feel we could use more second chances being inside more so that’s what we spent some time on today.”
Canada ranked third in goals during the preliminary round behind the U.S. and Finland (both 15). The Canadians ranked No. 1 in shots on goal with 111.
A bemused Babcock wondered about Canada’s lack of power-play opportunities. Canada has had just four, lowest among the 12 teams, with one power-play goal to show for its seven minutes 16 seconds with a man-advantage.
In contrast, Russia and Sweden both had 13 power play opportunities in the preliminary round. Slovenia had 15.
“You almost wonder how come you’re spending so much time preparing for them when they never come,” said Babcock. “We’ve talked about that as a coaching staff a number of times.
“But teams are disciplined and the game just is going that way. So it’s find a way to score.”
Babcock has stuck with his defensive pairings of Duncan Keith and Weber, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Doughty and Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo.
Tavares took a shot off the foot from Doughty during practice Tuesday. He grimaced but kept going.Report Typo/Error